12-Year-Old Found Hanged Might Have Been Playing 'Choking Game'

A 12-year-old boy found hanged in his basement might have been playing a "choking game" in which a person cuts off oxygen to the brain for a quick high, authorities said.

The sixth-grader at West Main Intermediate School apparently asphyxiated himself, said Jeff Lee, Licking County deputy coroner, who ruled the death an accident Thursday.

The boy was found by his father in the basement of their home about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, police Capt. Al Zellner said.

"He had gone downstairs to his bedroom and was by himself for 10 or 15 minutes," Zellner said. "His father came down to check on him."

Sue Leedale, the boy's principal, said the school will find a counselor to talk to students about the "choking game," also known by the names "knockout," "blackout" and the "pass-out game."

"No one had any inkling that any of our kids were talking about this," she said.

Lee said youngsters often view the "choking game" as a relatively safe way to get high without using drugs.

"But in this situation, it put him unconscious but left him in a more susceptible position," Lee said.

A teen from Stark County in northeast Ohio died from playing the game in August 2005, authorities said.

Newark is 30 miles east of Columbus.