Another Young Boy Dies From Deadly 'Game' Kids Learn About Online

Last Wednesday the Pope family's world came crashing down. And now these parents, who lost their precious 11-year-old son, are speaking out to try to warn other families about how dangerous "The Choking Game" really is.


The "game" goes by all sorts of different names like "Five Minutes in Heaven," "Space Cowboy," "Cloud Nine," and most commonly, "The Choking Game" -- and involves cutting off your air supply, which gives a "high" feeling. And it's deadly.

When the Popes found their son Garrett dead in his room, he had choked himself, and they, along with officials, say he was playing the Choking Game.

It's not new -- but no matter how many times we've written about this deadly trend, it doesn't seem to be going away.

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Now Garrett's parents, Garrett Sr. and Stacy, are doing everything they can to spread the word to other parents about the Choking Game and their tragic loss. In a Facebook post to a local community group, Garrett's father wrote:

I know that there are a lot of rumors out there ... and my family would like to share some words of caution. The Lancaster County Coroners office has determined that this was an accidental death caused by him playing something called 'The Choking Game'. It is where kids cut off their airwaves just enough to get a sense of euphoria.

... Please know that his senseless death was not intentional. He took this terrible 'game' too far. My family has never felt pain like this before and we don't [want] anyone else to go through what we are going through.

... He was so young and impressionable, he didn't know what he was doing, and made a terrible mistake.

Heartbreaking. Sadly, Garrett isn't the only child who's been lost to this dangerous stunt that kids are learning about online.

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Judy Rogg lost her 12-year-old son Erik in 2010 from the choking game and started Erik's Cause, a foundation committed to educating families about how dangerous this game can be. Rogg told the Lancaster News that kids just don't know how dangerous the game really is and parents need to be proactive in talking to them about it.

Another organization committed to educating kids about the Choking Game is called GASP, which stands for Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play. That group says that between 1995 and 2007 almost 400 kids have died from playing the Choking Game.

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The Popes have set up a GoFundMe for Garrett's memorial, funds from which they say will be donated their local elementary and middle schools "to help continue to develop their reading programs, and stock every classroom with the best in educational reading materials." Because their little boy loved to read.   

And if you have a middle schooler, it's worth having a conversation about the choking game around the dinner table tonight. No parent should have to suffer like this family is. But saving yourself from the same pain is what the Popes want you to do to honor the memory of their son.



Image via Garrett Pope Jr. Memorial Fund/GoFundMe

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