Asphyxial Games in Children and Adolescents

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Asphyxial games, as played by young adolescents, and going by various names, are not new phenomena. What seems to be different at present is an increase in lethality introduced by the increasing use of ligatures and “playing” the game alone. The authors present a properly certified but insufficiently appreciated case followed 2 years later by 2 closely spaced but unrelated deaths in young adolescent males that made known this practice in New Hampshire youth. Other cases presented to the author from other jurisdictions are reviewed in aggregate. Presented are characteristics of victims of this practice that may help distinguish these deaths from suicidal asphyxia. A relative paucity of literature regarding asphyxial games outside the realm of autoerotic asphyxia gives rise to certification difficulties given the high prevalence of youth suicide.

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