A 12-year-old girl died yesterday after she apparently hanged herself in her bedroom while playing a choking game, Seattle police said. The girl's younger sibling found...

A 12-year-old girl died yesterday after she apparently hanged herself in her bedroom while playing a choking game, Seattle police said.

The girl’s younger sibling found the girl alone and unconscious with her karate belt tied around her neck, said Seattle police spokesman Rich Pruitt. The Seward Park-area girl, who later died at Harborview Medical Center, is believed to have asphyxiated herself to cut off oxygen to her brain in an attempt to get high.

Pruitt said investigators are looking into the case as a choking game “because of the similarity to other recently reported choking-game incidents” across the country. He said he wasn’t aware of any other such deaths in the city.

This year alone a number of children across the country, including two Idaho youths, have died in similar ways.

Nathan Hoiosen, a school-resource officer with the Nampa, Idaho, police department, said youngsters think the choking game offers a “safe” buzz compared with drinking or doing drugs.

“It’s one of those undetectable things — no signs until it’s too late,” Hoiosen said.

Children have been playing hyperventilation or asphyxiation games for decades, he said, but using ropes or other ligatures seems to be a new trend.

“It’s scary, though,” he said. “You wish you could just take the kids and shake them and say, ‘What are you thinking?’ “

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294

or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

The Associated Press contributed

to this report.