Parents' Alert: Death Can Result from Teen 'Games'

By ACSH Staff — Jan 29, 2016
A 14-year old who shattered his eye socket and cheekbone after slamming face first into the corner of a metal window frame was in serious condition after accepting a seemingly-harmless dare. The "Duct Tape Challenge" is just the latest in a growing trend of dangerous "games" involving reckless teen behavior.
shutterstock_332808881 Someone playing games with duct tape, via Shutterstock

At last check, Skylar Fish remains in serious condition at Seattle Children s Hospital after a horrific and completely avoidable fall that almost cost him his life. The 14-year old shattered his eye socket and cheekbone after slamming face first into the corner of a metal window frame just before crashing hard onto a concrete floor. The fall caused Skylar to have an aneurysm, which resulted in a seizure. Since this is a cautionary tale, parents should take a look at Skylar.

How did this happen? It took place during a strange yet popular game, which teens today are calling the "Duct Tape Challenge."

This is just the latest in a growing list of dangerous fads to infiltrate the domain we reluctantly acknowledge as "reckless teen behavior." This behavior includes such games as "chubby bunny," the "cinnamon challenge" and the "choking game," all that sadly have made headlines in recent years due to the dangerous and sometimes deadly consequences associated with them.

The duct tape adventure starts with players' arms and legs wrapped separately, and tightly. Then, the player is tasked with escaping the strong adhesive as quickly as possible. Hilarity ensues. The challenge itself along with audiences' reaction is often videotaped and posted on social media so that all Facebook friends, Twitter followers and Snapchatters can enjoy the profound demonstration of stupidity that just took place.

Another bizarre "game" involves choking. While not intended for as broad an audience, this challenge is a strangulation activity where players asphyxiate themselves, or each other, to achieve a "high." Unfortunately, what many kids don't know is that the euphoric state, which is caused by cerebral hypoxia or lack of oxygen to the brain, brings a person one step shy of sudden death.

In 2014, four Utah teenagers from the same community died as a result of complication from playing the choking game also called blackout, flatlining, funky chicken and the gasp or knock-out game. And just last month, a Colorado boy was found dead in his closet with a rope around his neck. The choking game was known to have been popular among his classmates.

As for chubby bunny, a slightly different, yet equally stupid enterprise, this is where a participant attempts to stuff as many marshmallows as possible into his/her mouth. But when marshmallows are large, dry and absorb saliva and moisture, it's no wonder that several teens have either choked or suffocated.

Since the mid 1990s, the Centers for Disease Control have identified nearly 100 choking-game related deaths among youths, ages 6 to 19. The average age of these victims was just 13. While these games might seem innocent and harmless, as we have seen they are anything but with the proof being that there's actually statistical data to document loss of life.

To date, we haven't heard of reports of any duct tape challenge-related deaths. But given the popularity of this nutty stunt it's likely that Skylar isn't the only teen to be badly injured. We just haven't heard about them.

So for now, Skylar is in a hospital bed in Washington, blinded in one eye, and with 48 staples in his skull. And the nerve damage he suffered was so great that it will likely be permanent.

I don t know what I would do if I lost him, Skylar's mother, Sarah, told a local TV station. They told me over and over that ¦ he s lucky to be alive."

Maybe these games aren't so harmless and hilarious after all. We think it would be wise to let your children know what can happen when challenges go too far.

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