An Indiana teenager died after undertaking a social media challenge dubbed the “choking game,” his parents said.
Mason Bogard’s mother Joann Jackson Bogard said that her son participated in the challenge on May 1.
“We’ve learned that Mason attempted a challenge that he saw on social media and it went horribly wrong. The challenge that Mason tried was the choking challenge. The challenge is based on the idea that you choke yourself to the point of almost passing out and then stop. It’s supposed to create a type of high. Unfortunately, it has taken the lives of many young people too early and it will take our precious Mason,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Bogard said she wanted parents to pay attention to what their children look at on social media.
“We want to plead with you from the bottom of our hearts…please pay attention to what your children look at on social media. I know our kids always complain that we’re being too overprotective but it’s ok, it’s our job,” she wrote.
Bogard said that her son’s organs were going to be donated, a fitting action since “he was an extremely generous young man.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), the “choking game” started as far back as 1995.
The so-called game “is defined as self-strangulation or strangulation by another person with the hands or a noose to achieve a brief euphoric state caused by cerebral hypoxia,” it states. “Serious neurology injury or death can result if strangulation is prolonged.”
Using news media reports, the CDC said it identified 82 people whose deaths were likely from the challenge between 1995 and 2007. Seventy-one were male and the mean age was 13.3 years. The cases were restricted to people 19 years old or younger.
In one case, the agency said a 13-year-old boy arrived home after school in February 2006 in a good mood and had dinner with his family before heading to his bedroom to do his homework.
“Approximately 1 hour later, his mother went to check on him and discovered him slumped in a corner with a belt around his neck. His face was blue. The mother began cardiopulmonary resuscitation while one of the other children called an ambulance. The boy died at a local hospital 1 hour later. No suicide note was found. The county medical examiner ruled that the death resulted from accidental asphyxiation by hanging. In the weeks following his death, multiple teens told the director of a local counseling agency that the choking game had been played at local parties,” it said.
Another case cited was that of a 13-year-old girl who was found dead in her bedroom after her brother went inside her room to see why she hadn’t gone downstairs for breakfast.
“No suicide note was found. The medical examiner determined that the teen had died at 9.30 p.m. the previous night. After the teen’s death, the family learned that the girl had confided in a cousin that she recently had played the choking game in the locker room at school and that a group of girls at her school had been suspended for playing the choking game,” the CDC said.
The agency advised: “Parents, educators, and health-care providers should learn about the choking game and be able to recognize any of the following warning signs in youths: mention of the choking game (or the game by its other names); bloodshot eyes; marks on the neck; frequent, severe headaches; disorientation after spending time alone; and ropes, scarves, and belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor.”