Urbana Middle School teachers addressing 'pass-out game'

Urbana Middle School teachers addressing 'pass-out game'

URBANA — Urbana Middle School teachers are taking steps to educate students about the risks of self-induced fainting after a rash of incidents before, during and after school this week.

The "pass out game" refers to when someone purposely hyperventilates or asphyxiates oneself (or with the help of a peer) in order to attain a euphoric high. The fad is not unique to Urbana Middle School and has been happening at the middle and high school level for decades, school Principal Scott Woods said.

The "game" has gained popularity online over the past several years, with many teens uploading videos of themselves passing out on YouTube.

Woods said teachers were asked to discuss repercussions of the "game" during advisory classes Friday.

"We wanted to raise awareness and let the kids know this is a risky behavior, it's not a game. We also wanted to make sure they know they can report this kind of activity to an adult at anytime," Woods said.

In a letter sent to parents about the class discussions, Woods said he believed students were playing the game when there was little adult supervision: riding the bus, walking to school or in rest rooms.

For parent Valerie Lockett, whose daughter Alannah attempted to choke herself in the school bathroom this week — after friends prompted her to do it, she said — the information helps.

Lockett said her daughter, a seventh-grader at UMS, didn't understand the severity of the challenge before she did it and was mimicking things she saw on YouTube.

"She attempted it and wasn't successful, thank God. She ended up in the nurse's office after she tried to compress her diaphragm to pass out, feeling nauseous and light-headed," she said. "I was angry. There have been kids who have died from this."

Lockett said she had a conversation with her daughter about the dangers of the game and grounded her for doing it. Since then, Lockett has taken to Facebook to inform parents about the signs and risks to the behavior.

"It's hard enough to keep track of the stupid stuff kids find online to do, and with the way social media is now, it's even harder. There's so much stuff out there and as parents we need to make sure we are diligent and keep track of it," she said.

Woods said administrators and teachers will continue to monitor the situation closely at the school.

"Anytime anything like this comes up that's related to student health and safety, we confront it with students in a proactive way," he said.

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