The New York Times’ Kirk Johnson on “The Choking Game”.

Levi Draher, 16, walked to the front of the Navarro High School gym in early March and picked up the microphone before a hushed audience of fellow teenagers.

œI died and came back, he said.

Levi was found by his mother last Oct. 28, clinically dead, suspended on a rope he had slung across a bunk-bed frame. He had pushed his neck onto the rope, he told the rapt audience, aiming to achieve a surging rush as his brain was starved and then replenished with blood just before the point of unconsciousness.

The rush is the appeal of the choking game ” or space cowboy or cloud nine or any of a dozen other names. In most schools and families it remains a subject of deep shadow and denial, students, parents and health professionals say.

œI did it because it felt good and I didn™t think I™d get caught, said Levi, a slow-talking, sardonic skateboarder and hockey player from San Antonio. œDo I consider myself a miracle? asked Levi, who told the students he had played the game three times before his accident. œYes, I do.

While asphyxiation games have been around for many years, a series of locally publicized deaths around the country over the last few years, coupled with a realization that teenagers are seeing the game on Internet sites like YouTube, and playing it in more threatening variations ” more often, like Levi, alone with a rope ” are sparking a vigorous and open discussion in schools and among parents™ groups, summer camp administrators and doctors.

I’m sure you’re all as shocked and dismayed as I am. They named a high school after Dave Navarro?