A student at West Virginia University apparently hanged himself by accident in his dorm room while doing an activity known as the "choking game," a university spokeswoman said Friday.

A staff member at Dadisman residence hall found the body of 21-year-old Jonathan David Hansen hanging from a cord in his room at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, said spokeswoman Becky Lofstead.

The staff member went to the room after Hansen's parents contacted officials at the dorm because they had not heard from him for a couple of days, Lofstead said.

"The medical examiner determined it was an accidental hanging," she said.

The object of the "choking game" is to deprive the brain of oxygen so one can feel a brief rush when the blood flow returns. The game — also known as space monkey, flat-liner, fainting game and black out — was responsible for more than 50 deaths last year and eight this year, according to the Stop The Choking Game Web site. It can also cause brain damage, strokes, seizures and retinal damage.

Lofstead said Hansen's death was the first "choking game" death recorded at the university.

Hansen, of Elkview, was a junior majoring in chemical engineering and a 4.0 student, Lofstead said.