Murray students suspended for playing pass-out game

Published: Thursday, Jan. 20 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

Ahmed Ahmed, 11, does homework. The scabs on his face are from falling while playing the "pass-out game" at school.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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MURRAY — Ahmed Ahmed, 11, thought it looked fun.

"I thought it was a good game. I didn't know it was a dangerous game."

Some kids call it "pass out." Others refer to it as "knock out." And some even refer to it as the "monkey space thing," according to a police report.

Whatever the verbage, police, school officials and emergency room doctors say it has the same results: it could be potentially fatal.

For years, juveniles have played a game that involves choking or cutting off a person's air to the point that they faint or pass out. Sometimes the game involves punching the victim's stomach or making heavy chest compressions. Some children then try to slap or shake their friend back to consciousness.

Tuesday, the game landed Ahmed in the hospital. He was in relatively good condition Wednesday with several noticeable scrapes on his face and a giant goose egg on his forehead.

Ahmed said he was outside James E. Moss Elementary School, 4399 S. 500 East, at recess on Tuesday afternoon when he saw some classmates playing the fainting game. He said they asked him how old he was, and then convinced him to give it a try.

"This is the first time I've played it," he said Wednesday. "I felt bad. I felt dizzy, so dizzy."

The students had Ahmed "breathe in and out 16 times while holding his breath, followed by the other individuals punching/hitting him in his chest and stomach area," according to a report from the Granite Police Department.

They asked him if he "wanted to get knocked out," which included pushing on his chest when he finished breathing.

The process caused Ahmed to faint and fall face first onto the concrete ground. He said Wednesday he did not remember what happened. But other students told him that after he was done with the breathing part of the game, he ran a little bit and fell on his face.

"I wasn't seeing anything," he said. "I didn't know what I was doing."

A Granite police officer went to the home of the boy's "emergency contact," a relative, who picked the boy up from school. He found him lying down with an ice pack on his head. He also had cuts on his face and a bloody nose and lip, according to the report.

The officer contacted Unified Fire Authority paramedics, who transported the boy to Primary Children's Medical Center.

Some of the students involved later told police, "They believed if you're 10 or 11 years old that you would be OK to get knocked out ... (but) if you were 9 that you could die."

Dr. Charles Pruitt, a pediatric emergency medicine doctor at Primary Children's Medical Center, said that's not the case. Anytime any person of any age does it, it could have severe results.

"When you cut off oxygen to the brain, you have seconds to minutes before causing irreparable brain damage," he said. "Anytime you're cutting off blood circulation to the brain you're starving it."

One of the alleged students involved told police he learned about "getting knocked out" by another student who did it to him during the first recess, according to the police report.

Another student said he was "playing a 'bad game' called 'fainting' with his friends" when another student came up to them and asked if he could play, too, the report states.

The students were reportedly all fifth-grade boys. All of the four or five boys involved in the game were suspended from school through the end of the week. The students were suspended under the Safe Schools policy, said Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley.

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