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DSP Warns Parents, Family of Iowa Boy Discusses “Choking Game”

Yesterday Keri was able to do a Skype interview with a news station from Delaware. Below is the print version of the piece and here is the link where you can view the whole story and watch the video.

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) – There’s a renewed warning for parents after a Kent County teen died in what’s being called a “tragic accident.”

WBOC reported Monday a 14-year-old Felton boy died over the weekend.

Delaware State Police are not commenting on the specifics of the case. But troopers are urging parents to talk with their kids “about games that have a person tie an object around their neck to the point of passing out to obtain a euphoric high.”

The activity goes by a lot of names. It can be called “Pass Out Challenge,” “Space Monkey,” “Black Out Game” and most commonly “Choking Game.”

It’s been around for years but has seen a recent resurgence in popularity through social media. It’s a very serious, very dangerous activity that has claimed the lives of many kids nationwide, like that of Joshua Engle, an Iowa boy. Engle died three years ago playing the choking game. He was 13 years old.

His sister Keri Anderson remembers seeing her dad and mom right after they found Joshua.

“She told me he was gone and he can’t come back. My dad kept saying my brother’s eyes were glazed over. He could tell he was gone,” she said. “Once we found out it was the choking game – actually researching and finding out the warning signs and the symptoms – that’s when we really believed this was right in front of us the whole time. We just didn’t know.”

Anderson says recognizing the warning signs is one of the most important things parents can do. Those signs include bruising on the neck, frequent and severe headaches, bloodshot eyes and finding items like belts, ties, scarves left around.

“Unless you know what you’re looking for, you would bypass them and give them a different reason,” Anderson said.

There’s lots of information for parents available online, like YouTube videos showing what happens to the body during the choking game and how it can be deadly.

Anderson says it’s important to talk with kids. And it’s key not to be accusatory.

“I wouldn’t come at them from a defensive side, because that’s when kids are going to shut down and get scared.”

Anderson says it’s difficult every time she hears about a kid killed playing the choking game.

“All the emotions just come back. You know it’s not going to be, but you can get through it,” she said.

Again, DSP has not officially released a cause of death for the 14-year-old Felton boy. He was a middle schooler in the Lake Forest School District. District and school officials sent out notices Monday to families about what happened.

In a 2008 report, the Centers for Disease Control laid out the prevalence of the choking game problem. The report said the “game” led to 82 deaths nationwide between 1995 and 2007. Most of those happened from 2005 on. The majority of the kids killed were boys that were on average between 13 and 14 years old.

In an unfortunate coincidence, Saturday, the day the Felton boy died, was Worldwide Choking Game Awareness Day.

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