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Warning over fatal 'choking game'

An American parental-help organisation has warned of the dangers of a teenage 'choking game' thought to have spread to the UK.

Staff at Connect With Kids said parents, teachers and teenagers should be aware of the risks posed by the 'choking game', which is thought to have claimed the lives of a number of American children.

The organisation, based in Atlanta, Georgia, issued the warning after an inquest heard how a 13-year-boy from Braintree, Essex, died while apparently playing the 'game'.

It involves restricting oxygen to the brain in order get a 'high'.

"This is something that parents, teachers and children everywhere should be concerned about," said a Connect With Kids spokeswoman. "There have been deaths in America and it is something that we - and other organisations in the US - have reported on."

An inquest in Chelmsford, Essex, heard that Harry Robinson was found hanging by a dressing gown cord at his home in January and was later pronounced dead.

A coroner said it was believed the youngster was involved in playing the 'choking game'.

Organisations including the British Youth Council and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre said they were unaware of the 'game' - and Essex police said it was not an issue that had arisen before.

But groups in America are raising concerns on the internet. An organisation called Radical Parenting warns on its website: "The choking game is where kids use homemade nooses to hang themselves so they restrict oxygen. They compete for who can endure the longest and then also try to get a high from the lack of oxygen to their brain. Many teenagers have died playing this game. This is a serious issue."

And a campaign group called Games Adolescents Should Not Play (Gasp) says on its website: "Help Gasp stop the choking game before it hits close to home. The choking game is a misunderstood activity causing death and suffering for thousands of families worldwide. It often begins with high-achieving teens choking each other as a way to get high without the risk of getting caught with drugs or alcohol. It ends with... kids dying or suffering permanent brain damage."

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