About Erik's Cause

   Erik’ Cause is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization
  dedicated to spreading awareness and providing effective education about the dangers of
     deadly viral social media challenges, in particular the Blackout Challenge aka Choking Game

Our purpose is to save kids’ lives and keep families from having to endure the devastation of losing a child to these preventable challenges.  To that end, we believe that knowledge is power.

Arguably the deadliest and most viral of all online challenges are pass out activities, commonly known in the media as “The Choking Game” or "Blackout Challenge" which have been around for centuries.  Unlike auto-erotic asphyxiation  (AeA), teens and tweens have been experimenting with this for non-sexual reasons (curiosity, peer pressure, the mistaken belief that it is safer than drugs, etc.) because they are unaware of the dangers.

We offer a non-graphic, skills-based educational module called "Navigating Social Media Challenges" to teach students about the potential for injury and death from these seemingly innocent activities along with specific ways to reinforce vital skills that kids need to say "no" to peer pressure.  We also provide parents with an evening workshop "Expand Your Parenting Toolkit" to offer them ways to broach discussions with their children about challenging topics.  Our training module is standardized so that it can be easily replicated by any presenter, thus offering schools and communities a simple-to-use tool that can be easily taught in the classroom or an assembly.  It is vital to any risk prevention or digital wellness curriculum (as the majority of them do not discuss challenges).  Learn more about our training module here.

A multitude of diverse professionals as well as parents and kids provided valuable input as we created our training program.  While our program is geared for children ages 9-16, it can be tailored for high school students as well as elementary school children.  We provide ongoing support to communities who implement and use our program and also collect data to determine the effectiveness.

Research supports this skills-based approach in addressing other types of risk prevention:

Demonstrated Success:  Since 2014 our training program has continued to be successfully taught in the 5th, 7th, and 10th grade Health classes across Iron County School District, Utah.  The teachers say it is user friendly, survey data demonstrates that kids are learning important new skills, and parents have shared that their kids are starting conversations with them as a direct result of our training.

Our Ultimate Goal is for this issue to have the national exposure and dialogue it deserves.  Meanwhile, kids are still dying from these senseless and preventable activities.  Even more are injured.  Unfortunately, accurate injury and death statistics are limited because there are no formal public health databases to monitor these activities.  Many choking game deaths are misclassified as suicide and many injuries go unreported altogether.

The limited data that is available demonstrates extensive and easy access of to "how to play" videos across the internet without any balance of information as to the risks.  (See the Data tab on this website as well as Compelling Data and the 2015 University of Wisconsin's study re YouTube.)  

Erik was a normal, bright and curious 6th grader - an "A" student, boy scout, and athlete who had focused plans and dreams for his future.  He learned about this from a schoolmate the day before he tried it at home and died.  There were no warning signs because he had only just learned of it.  Had we known about it's dangers, we would have discussed it and I am confident that he never would have attempted to "play" it ... he would be alive today.  

Erik's dream was to be a soldier - he wanted to save lives.  Our mission is to honor his legacy by saving the lives of other kids and to keep families from experiencing this type of devastating loss.

There is no cost for use of the Erik's Cause training module and help to implement it.  We ask, when possible, for:

  • pre- and post- training survey data collection (anonymous/confidential);
  • a tax-deductible donation (if feasible).

Your donation and the confidential survey data will allow us to continue our important work and save lives.

Thank you.

Please explore our website, read our material,
share your story with us, tell a friend,
share with others, join our cause and save kids' lives!


Do you like this page?

Be the first to comment

Erik's Cause
Saving lives with a non-graphic, skills-based approach to stop the spread of viral & deadly online challenges

Prevention Program
Report an Incident
Compelling Data