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Teen Dies Playing the Choking Game

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The "choking game" gains popularity among teens and tweens ... but sometimes kills.


Two weeks ago, 15-year-old son Kris Marceno died playing the "choking game." Bobbi Jo Marceno said her son had tied one end of an electrical cord around his neck and the other end to a bunk bed.

"I think I heard about (the choking game) somewhere down the line, but I never really paid attention to it," Kris' dad Joe Marceno said. "I mean, we were looking for other things - the drinking, the drugs and that kind of stuff."

Unfortunately, Kris is just the latest in a long list of victims. Momlogic talked to Sarah Pacatte, a mom who is all too familiar with the choking game and its deadly consequences. Her 13-year-old twin son, Gabriel, died on May 6, 2005 while playing it. Sarah was just five feet away from him, right in the next room. "The choking game is something that kids hear about from other kids," says this mother of four. "They're told it will give them a high and that it's not dangerous. But the truth is, it kills."

And even if a child plays it and doesn't die, the list of other potential side effects is long. They include: bruises, concussions, broken bones, seizures, brain damage, retinal hemorrhaging, and even stroke. Because there's no standardized way to report deaths as a result of the choking game, it's hard to track exactly how many kids have died from playing it. The first government report of choking game fatalities found that 82 kids have perished from it since 1995, reported CBS News. But according to Pacatte, that figure is likely much higher, due to the fact that many of these deaths are actually reported as accidents, strangulation, hanging, or suicide. She says that since her son Gabriel's death three years ago, more than 300 kids have perished while playing the game.

Since her son's tragic passing, Pacatte works with a group called GASP (Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play) to educate parents on the dangers of the choking game. "Parents need to talk to their kids about the choking game, just as they would talk to their kids about any other dangerous activity like drinking or doing drugs." If you're worried you'll "put ideas into your kid's head," Pacatte says those ideas are already there. "Kids across this country are talking about this and doing it. This game goes by many names: Suffocation Roulette, Black Out, Pass Out, Choking, Fainting, Strangle, Flatline, California High, Wall Toke, Funky Chicken and Space Monkey, to name a few. Just punch in 'pass out game' into YouTube and you'll find hundreds of videos of kids doing this 'for fun'." (We just did this, and were alarmed to see that some of these videos have been viewed over 10,000 times.) "They all think nothing will go wrong," she concludes. "But they need to know the game can be deadly."

The Centers for Disease Control officials urge parents to be aware the fad exists, and to watch for possible warning signs like bloodshot eyes, marks on the neck, frequent and severe headaches, disorientation after spending time alone, and ropes, scarves or belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor. For more warning signs your child is playing the choking game, click here.

Our heart goes out to Sarah Pacatte, Kris Marceno's mom, and any other mother who has lost a child as a result of the choking game. We plan to talk to our tweens and teens about this tonight. What about you?

next: Female Teachers Are Having Sex with Our Sons
14 comments so far | Post a comment now
dizzymum November 20, 2008, 4:24 PM

OMG that’s awful! Such a sad waste. Thanks for the warning, but my heart goes out to those people.

Anonymous November 20, 2008, 8:05 PM

WE all miss Kris so much. I see him everywhere.
This is just terrible.

Anonymous November 20, 2008, 10:27 PM

stupid kid

Me! November 22, 2008, 6:55 PM

That is so rude Anonymous 2. You were or are still a child and did or do silly things like you did by posting “stupid kid”. Juged lest ye be judged! God bless these kids and their families.

sph November 23, 2008, 9:05 PM

who ever said “stupid kid”, you are the one who is stupid. Kris was one of my best friends. and you didn’t even know him. god. get a life. stop being such a jerk.

oliviabb December 1, 2008, 2:41 AM

exactly Sarah.
Its so sad that people think that.

Ciaira December 9, 2008, 2:59 PM

This is super sad. Im a 15 year old and i think it should be a wake up call to all those parents that dont pay attention to their kids and let them do whatever [not meaning this family] but its sad and i want my blessings to this family he will be remembered. R.I.P Sweet heart your forgiven its not your fault we all test and experience things. Some times we must loose some one to learn from what it can do. R.I.P.

Anonymous March 8, 2009, 8:55 PM

i miss you kris

Chris March 26, 2009, 12:40 PM

I feel bad for any parents who lose a child this way. Even though I’m not a parent, my youngest brother, at the age of 16, died while apparently engaged in a similar activity. I know how traumatic it was for me and my family.

My heart goes out to this family.

joye howard April 24, 2009, 10:33 AM

i am so sorry for your lost i too have lost a son not the way you did i guess my son died the old fashion way drugs and drinking so i know your lost and the empties you feel remember this it was not your fault our children choose there way of life we think they are to young they are not my son mitch was 24 i had been trying for 10 years to help him but they have to help there ownself frist we cannot be with them 24 hours a day i love him always and just remember you will see him in heaven i believe there is a special place for our tromblem children that is the only way i can make it on a day to day.

Lucky May 7, 2009, 7:15 PM

I am 27 and when I was 14 all of my friends were doing this. I have even done this we would lean into a friends hands around our throat and they would let go and lay us down when our bodies went limp! Looking back I can honestly say we didn’t realize how dangerous it was. We just knew it felt funny. So I really feel for these families, because I think these kids are innocently playing a game with out realizing how dangerous it truly is!

Jay-Jay May 16, 2009, 6:11 PM

im so sorry for yall lost . i never even knew about this activity until today . i also seen the videos of kids doing this . this really needs to STOP!! its just so sad =-[ *siqn* my heart go out to the family

Lisa May 16, 2009, 6:14 PM

Oh for real? i wanna try this haha its gonna be F.U.N . hopefully

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