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Death of Santa Monica boy, 12, apparently a result of 'choking game'

April 28, 2010 |  6:04 pm
A 12-year-old Santa Monica boy died after apparently playing the "choking game" inside his home, police said Wednesday.

Officers found the boy in full cardiac arrest April 20 at his home in the 800 block of 18th Street after receiving an emergency call. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was taken off life support two days later and pronounced dead, the Santa Monica Police Department said.

The boy, who was playing the game by himself, tied a rope to his neck and attached it to a device in the home, police said.

"It didn't break free and he ended up cutting off the blood flow and oxygen to his brain," said Sgt. Jay Trisler, adding that the case is being investigated as an accidental death.

The goal of the game -- also known as "space monkey," "sleeper hold" and "funky chicken" -- is to restrict the blood flow to the brain and cause a quick euphoric sensation. The game can be played alone, using a necktie, belt or other type of binding to put pressure on the carotid artery in the neck. The other method involves using a partner, who can apply pressure to the neck or chest until the subject passes out.

Despite the dangers, officials say, the game has been embraced by a number of youths across the country.  

"It's very popular among the kids," Trisler said.

-- Robert J. Lopez