Choking game steals life of 9-year-old

10:05 PM, Nov 9, 2010   |    comments
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Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show many middle school kids, mostly boys, are playing the potentially deadly game at parties or on dares. There is evidence younger kids are playing the game as well.

Sheila and Dexter Brown say their son, Luke Spencer of Arvada, died from the choking game.

"He spent a lot of time evangelizing people in the street and in the stores," his mom Sheila Brown said. "One of the things he knew, as a Christian, he was going to be with God forever."

His parents say the choking game took the life the 9-year-old could have led.

"I don't think he feared death," Sheila Brown said. "I don't think he feared this thing he was doing could lead to death."

What the 9-year-old was doing, his parents say, was playing the choking game which he had learned from friends.

YouTube videos show kids playing the choking game, looking for a euphoric high by asphyxiating themselves.

They will hit the floor, laugh about it, and if they live, doctors say, they will show warning signs, since the blood flow is cut off from the brain.

"We saw red bloodshot eyes on him a couple of times," Sheila Brown said, "really red bloodshot eyes."

They saw headaches as well.

"I would tell him to take one Tylenol," Dexter Brown, Luke's father, said.

But parents may not know why the symptoms are happening until after the day a child dies.

It was Oct. 29, 2009 for the Browns.

"I was downstairs reading and had no idea," Sheila Brown said.

That day, his mom found him in his bathroom with a belt around his neck.

"As soon as I saw him," she said, "I screamed, and I immediately took him down and put him in the hallway and started to do CPR."

It was too late.

"We just didn't understand how something like this could happen with us," Sheila Brown said.

Many parents say they don't understand why kids play the choking game.

A survey by the Dangerous Behaviors Foundation found, when asked, 75 percent of parents did not know about the game.

"Seventy percent [of children are playing the game] alone," psychologist Dr. Jeff Dolgan, with The Children's Hospital, said. "Thirty percent - their buddies are helping them."

Child psychologists say parents need to bring up the choking game at home, just like any other talk about drugs or alcohol.

"The best that we can do is to get out information to pediatricians and to parents to be alert about this," Dolgan said.

"You teach a kid not to drive fast, speeding will kill you, why not this?" Dexter Brown said.

"It's deadly if they're alone," Sheila Brown said. "Once they cross that line, there's no one there to revive them and that's what happened to Luke."

The Browns they hope no other child dies the same way.

"My only reason for doing this is to avoid anyone else going through this," Sheila Brown said. "We take comfort knowing that he's with God now."

The CDC can say definitively 82 that kids have died from the game since 1995, but many more are paralyzed or brain dead.

For more information on how you can talk to your kids about the game, the Dangerous Behaviors Foundation ( has extensive resources to help parents talk to their children about the dangers of the game.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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