“EVEN SMART STRONG KIDS CAN MAKE DUMB CHOICES
WITH DEADLY CONSEQUENCES” ...
Pass-out games, most commonly known as “The Choking Game,” have been around for centuries. Unlike auto-erotic asphyxiation (AeA), teens and tweens have been experimenting with this for non-sexual reasons (e.g., curiosity, peer pressure, the mistaken belief that it is safer than drugs) because they are unaware of the dangers.
This generations-old issue has seen a recent resurgence as a result of You Tube, making the internet a cyber-playground. Kids learn this deadly activity from other kids all across the world and believe from other kids that it is harmless. They lack effective education to combat what they hear on the web, putting them all at risk.
The Choking Game differs from other risky activities is that it:
- is not illegal and has no deterrent of legal consequence;
- does not require acquisition of a product;
- can be “played” alone; and
- interrupts basic brain function, therefore it is impossible to know when brain damage or death will occur.
It is an equal-opportunity danger – it knows no racial, cultural, religious or socio-economic boundaries.
While studies estimate 6 – 16% of teens have participated in pass-out games, anecdotal reports indicate the numbers to be much higher. Increasing articles cite The Choking Game as one of the top dangerous behaviors that need to be on parents’ radar.
Statistically it has been considered an aberration because the numbers of deaths and injuries attributed to ‘The Choking Game’ appear small, hence unimportant. But statistics do not tell the story. There is no death code for The Choking Game, nor is there an injury code for Choking Game injuries. In addition to a lack of codes to correctly gather statistics, there is no standardized way for law enforcement and medical examiners to determine cause of death. As a result, most Choking Game deaths are misclassified as suicides. And choking game-related injuries are rarely reported with the correct attribution. Even when a correct determination is made, many families bear their grief in silence because of shock and shame, “How could my child have done something so stupid? What was s/he thinking?”
Erik Robinson is one such victim of the Choking Game ...
My son Erik died April 21, 2010 from the Choking Game. He was a normal, healthy 6th grader at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California - an "A" student, avid athlete and boy scout. His dream was to go to West Point, enter the military and then law enforcement. He was the opposite of a youth "at risk". Credible evidence indicates that Erik's first exposure to the choking game was during school the day before he tried it at home and died.
At first we said that Erik died from a tragic accident until one schoolmate came forward and corroborated what the police maintained. A reporter wanted to write a story that Erik was cyber-bullied into suicide which was totally false. I was so incensed that I decided to go public with the truth.
Thus began the journey called Erik’s Cause ...
With the valuable input of many professionals, we have created an exceptional non-graphic skill-based training program that addresses the dangers of ‘The Choking Game’ in a way that does not make kids curious to try it and also builds character skills to help kids say “no” to risk-taking behavior in general. The training is standardized and can be easily replicated. We provide education for parents as well as kids which also helps open a door of opportunity for parents to talk with their children about other sensitive topics in addition to the Choking Game.
Decades ago, talk of substance abuse prevention in schools was unthinkable. Recently bullying was a taboo subject until it gained national attention. We believe the time has come to bring The Choking Game out of the shadows and into public awareness so our children can be saved from this epidemic and families can be spared the grief of losing a child to this preventable activity.
Erik's dream was to be a soldier - he wanted to save lives. My mission is to honor his legacy by saving the lives of other kids and sparing families from this type of blindsiding loss. Please share your story with us, tell a friend, share with others, join our cause and save kids' lives.
Thank you, Judy Rogg (Erik's mom)
These are just a few of the many victims of the choking game: