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Heartbreaking New Details About The 12-Year-Old Boy Who Died Playing 'The Fainting Game'

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What Is The Fainting Game? New Details About The 12-Year-Old Salt Lake City Boy Who Died Playing The Game

What is the fainting game?

A 12-year-old boy died as a result of the fainting game, a popular yet dangerous activity among teens and kids who force themselves to pass out to feel a high or rush. 

Tua Muai, from Salt Lake City, Utah, was found unconscious on a Friday afternoon in 2018. His mother, Celestia Muai, called 911, but it was too late. The boy was pronounced dead at the hospital. 

"I spent Mother’s Day planning my son’s funeral, writing his obituary, instead of having breakfast or flowers or I love you mom,” Celestia told reporters. “Try to imagine what it would be like and multiply that by infinity and that’s kind of what it’s like.. there’s no words.”

That afternoon he died, Tua had been playing the fainting game with his friends. 

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Also known as the pass-out game, the choking game, the American dream, the tingling game, space monkey, purple dragon, ghost, knock-out game, black hole, black-out game, California choke, cloud nine, suffocation roulette, and more, the goal of the fainting game is for children to cut off oxygen to their brain or the brain of someone else. 

Sometimes they use their hands, other times they use a rope or a belt.

It is described that this "game" is done with the intent to "release the pressure just before loss of consciousness." The result is usually a high or a rush caused by killing thousands of brain cells.

But sadly, Tua isn't the first child to lose his life while playing. In the United States, from 1997 and 2007, 82 children between the ages of 6 and 19 died as a result of playing the game. Most of them were boys, like Tau, between the ages of 11 and 16.

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Tua's Football Coach, Bryan Ellison, said, "This one hurt, this hurts. It was like ice in my veins it's something that I never ever will forget."

Though there hasn't been a follow-up study since then, the deaths do not appear to have slowed down.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report revealed that over 1,400 children and teens died from accidental hanging and strangulation between 2000 and 2015.

“He was just playing a game, and he didn't think things through,” Celestia said of Tua, who was known for his adventurous spirit and beautiful smile.  Celestia, who lost her husband a year and a half earlier, hoped sharing her story could possibly prevent future tragedies.

“I would hate for any other mother to go through what I’m going through and any other children to go through,” Celestia said. “There's nothing that can take the pain away, but if it can save one child, one parent, one family ... then it will make more sense."

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Emily Blackwood is an editor at YourTango who covers pop culture, true crime, dating, relationships and everything in between. 

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in May 2018 and was updated with the latest information.