Dangerous Game Sparking Conversation

st j academyST. JOHNSBURY— St. Johnsbury Academy is having discussions within their community about a "dangerous game" that sent a student to the hospital on Wednesday. It goes by many different names, like the "Blackout Game" or "Choke Game." This came after an incident on Wednesday where a St. Johnsbury Academy student was sent to Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital after playing the "game."

The game involves taking rapid breaths for about a minute and then having another person choke the individual until they pass out, giving them a head rush high.

"The young man was seriously injured," said Tom Lovett, Headmaster of St. Johnsbury Academy. "Some injuries to his jaw and his teeth, so much so that he needs further medical attention."

Lovett did say that action was taken quickly to help the male student. "There is an office right there, so [there were] adults right on the scene right away and got emergency personnel there, and our nursing staff was there. So we were right there seconds of it happening," said Lovett.

Lovett also said that this was the second day in a row the "game" was played at the Academy.

During Thursday's chapel session Lovett debunked some of the myths about this game. "There are some myths about this that teenagers think they can control when to let up and let oxygen back into the brain. They think it's safe. They think it's a cheap way to get a high."

"Anytime you are involving yourself in something where you don't have any control over your bodily functions, it can be a dangerous thing," said Chief Timothy Page, of the St. Johnsbury Police Department. "There could be other things that occur. It could result in death if the right circumstances are present."

"The moment you cut off oxygen to the brain, it does result in cell death," said Lovett.

Parents are confused as to why kids are doing this to themselves. "It's so weird, it's not even worth it," said Liz Lavoie, a West Burke resident. One resident offered the advice of not engaging in the act.

St. Johnsbury Academy is now working to make sure people understand the signs of this act, so that it can be stopped.

"We can be [as] vigilant as we want to. We work really hard to create a kind of community here where people are safe and healthy," said Lovett. " I am hoping that after today, because they have the knowledge of what it does, and because they know it's their responsibility to step up and stop it if they see it happening, that we can put an end to this game once and for all."

Local schools also weighed in on the issue. The Thaddeus Stevens School as well as the Danville School both posted a message to parents on Facebook emphasizing how important it is to talk about the game, as well as letting parents know the signs to look for.

Both Lovett and Paige have said that education and then conversation is what is going to work to change the perception of the game.

"Blackout Game" from NewsLINC on Vimeo.

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