The Conroe Courier reports in its August 15th edition that Haley Kinney, a 14 year old girl living in Spring, Texas (just north of Houston) died July 21 while playing the "choking game." She would have been an 8th grader this year at Schindewolf Middle School in Klein ISD.
I have previously posted a number of times about this extremely dangerous practice that appears nonetheless to be increasing among middle school students. The article contains these shocking statistics
In 2005, there were 61 reported choking game deaths and eight injuries in the United States, according to chokinggameinformation.com. In 2006, 40 youths have died so far playing the deadly game.
The girl's twin brother is also quoted in the article
Kirby Kinney said he first heard about the choking game from a friend in sixth grade, then saw it depicted in the movie "My Life as a House," which was seen by several of his friends as well. "Everyone wanted to try it," he said. "We did it more and more," Kinney said. "We never thought somebody could die from it."
The Courier article also discusses several other potentially deadly activities including reaching out of moving cars to grab
mailboxes, "ghost ride the whip" (named after a song
by hip-hop ingénue E40), in which drivers put their vehicle in neutral, open
the driver's-side door when it is still moving, exit and jog or dance alongside
it or on it, "car surfing" where young
drivers get on top of a moving car, and "Chubby Bunny" in which participants stuff their mouths with marshmallows
until they can't say the words "Chubby Bunny."
More information is available at www.deadlygameschildrenplay.com.
Haley Kinney 14, died
alone in her bedroom of her family's Spring home July 21 while playing
"the choking game." Kirby Kinney found his twin sister dead.
According to her uncle, Kenny George, she tied a scarf around her neck and placed it over the door, then closed it and lowered herself. "If she stood up, she would have been tall enough to relieve it," he said.
Players of the so-called game create a faux euphoria by cutting off the oxygen supply to the brain for long enough to render a person unconscious, to feel the sensation of returning to consciousness.
said he first heard about the choking game from a friend in sixth grade, then
saw it depicted in the movie "My Life as a House," which was seen by
several of his friends as well.
"Everyone wanted to try it," he said.
"We did it more and more," Kinney said. "We never thought
somebody could die from it."
The circumstances surrounding Haley Kinney's death eerily parallel the death of a Boise, Idaho teenager, Chelsea Dunn, a year ago. Like Kinney, Dunn's twin brother found her hanging from her closet door with a belt around her neck. A game she apparently learned from friends at school, Dunn had played the choking game in the last moments of her life.
was 13 when she died.
Dunn's story aired on ABC's "20/20" July 29, 2005, but a year later
statistics continue to rise. In 2005, there were 61 reported choking game
deaths and eight injuries in the United States, according to
chokinggameinformation.com. In 2006, 40 youths have died so far playing the
Department of Public Safety Corp. Steve Hargett said the choking game isn't the
only potentially deadly activity youths and adolescents engage in. Adding a
vehicle into the mix can cause treacherous consequences, he said. "I've known of kids reaching out to grab
mailboxes and pull them out while riding in a car, and being pulled out,"
he said. "A young man died that way."
In another dangerous trend, termed "ghost ride the whip" after a song by hip-hop ingénue E40, drivers sometimes put their vehicle in neutral, open the driver's-side door when it is still moving, exit and jog or dance alongside it or on it.
Montgomery County Sheriff's Lt. Dan Norris said "car surfing" also is
a risky but popular activity. "[Young
drivers] get on top of the car as it is moving," Norris said. "I saw
it just the other day in a parking lot."
Norris said parents should protect against drag racing and other perilous
activities that "have possible consequences" by monitoring and
advising youths they "might be involved in something dangerous." "Parents should know where their kids
are, what they are doing and who they are doing it with," Norris said.
As presiding officer of the Montgomery County Child Fatality Review Team,
Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Edie Connelly said the county's high accidental
and suicide death rate is discouraging. "We
can prevent those two things," Connelly said. "One of the most
important things parents can do is monitor their children's associates: day,
night and online."
Unfortunately, even widely popular games that seem harmless can be deceptively
threatening. In June 2005, Chicago's
Fish family successfully sued the school district their daughter, Casey Fish,
12, attended. She choked and died in 1999 at the school while playing the game
'Chubby Bunny,' in which participants stuff their mouths with marshmallows
until they can't say the words "Chubby Bunny."
Montgomery County EMS Director Allen Johnson said it had been a while since he saw a case like Haley Kinney's in which somebody died playing the choking game. But, it was all too familiar. In fact, Johnson recalled the death of his junior high school classmate under almost identical circumstances.
"That was 25 or 26 years ago," Johnson
The practice is not only generations old, it's worldwide. There are Web sites warning of the practice with memorials to its victims listing countries all over the globe. According to the national Web site www.deadlygameschildrenplay.com, the game is sometimes called "pass out game," "space monkey" and "blackout." Regardless of which label is used, the danger is the same.
Kinney said he knew at least 10 people who tried the choking game and that it
was even done at school. Haley Kinney's
family established a foundation in her name and hopes to spread the word to as
many schools and youth groups as possible. George is spearheading the project
along with Kirby Kinney, who said he is willing to discuss the most painful
experience imaginable for his sister's sake. "It's a matter of me telling more people to stop because I could be
saving a life," he said.
George said they had brochures made warning of the practice as well as bracelets made in Haley's memory. George is also working on T-shirts and a Web site.
As for Kirby Kinney, he is trying to get through each day without the sister with
whom he shared everything. He said
starting the eighth grade at Schindewolf Middle School in the
Klein ISD without Haley would be hard. "I'm
not really ready," Kirby Kinney said. "We'd race home from the bus