A South Carolina boy accidentally killed himself on Aug. 31 while playing the “Choking Game,” according to local reports.
Garrett Pope, Jr. was found dead in his bedroom after the playing the game, where one intentionally cuts off their oxygen supply to the brain in order to obtain a sense of euphoria.
According to the Pope family, the 11-year-old must have learned about the game from his peers in school and from the neighborhood, given that their tablets and computers yielded no search history about the game.
Stacy Pope, the boy’s mother, told The Herald that the first mention of the Choking Game came from a summer football coach, at which she later asked her son about the game and he said he knew nothing about it.
“I should have pushed it further,” said Stacy. “If you talk to your kids and they said they don’t know about it, don’t stop there. You educate them on what it is, it’s not a game and it can kill you.”
The Pope family urges other parents to have open dialogue with their children about the potentially deadly game.
“He took this terrible game too far,” Garrett Pope Sr. wrote in a Facebook post. “My family has never felt pain like this before, and we don’t want anyone else to go through what we are going through.”
Pope Sr. continued: “Please talk about this with your kids, and do everything you can to prevent a similar tragedy. He was so young and impressionable, he didn’t know what he was doing, and made a terrible mistake.”
The Lancaster News reported that school administrators would be discussing the death of Pope Jr. with its student body.
“We have been made aware of these parents’ concerns and will investigate this to take every step possible to address their concerns in an effort to protect all of our children,” Lancaster County School District spokesman David Knight told the paper.
In a 2008 study, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 82 probable Choking Game deaths among youths aged 11 to 16 years, between 1995 and 2007.
The study also warned parents, educators, and health professionals of the signs that children are participants of the game, which includes bloodshot eyes, marks on the neck, frequent and severe headaches, and ropes, scarves, and belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor.
A GoFundMe page was set up in remembrance of Pope Jr. He was an avid reader, and all money donated to the crowdfunding page will go to Indian Land Elementary and Middle schools to help its reading programs.