Sharron says for generations, young people—mostly pre-teens and teenagers—have been finding ways to suffocate themselves on purpose. The lure is a drug-free way to achieve a euphoric, light-headed high that lasts a few seconds. Some children play the game together, helping each other cut off the oxygen flow to the brain using everything from ropes to plastic bags to just their bare hands. Jesse used a computer cord to cut off his airway the day he died. "They don't think they are going to die," she says. "They have these mechanisms they use that they think are going to release, but they don't release."
Sharron started the organization GASP (Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play) to educate parents, children and teachers about the dangers of this high-risk activity. She is also trying to get the nation's DARE programs to teach students about the dangers of the game, including loss of brain cells and death. "All we need to do is show them what happens to their bodies when they do it, and I believe that most of these deaths can be stopped," Sharron says.
Here are some signs that your child may be taking part in the choking game:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Change in attitude and more aggressive behavior
- Belts, ropes, strings and dress ties are in places where they shouldn't be
- Wear marks on bedroom furniture or in closets