DCC student dies playing 'choking game'

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The Discovery Canyon Campus community is grieving the loss of one of their own after a student tragically died after engaging in what is known as the “choking game.”

Freshman Sean Hill died on April 26 and students and parents of DCC were informed the following Monday morning. The family has asked for privacy and the district isn't releasing any more details.

Hill's parents gave the district permission to share how their son died and also warned parents.

In an email sent to parents the school stated, “We have extended our support to Sean's family and we are honoring his family's request for privacy at this time by only releasing information that they had approved. Out of sincere concern for our students and community, Sean's parents have given us permission to share that Sean died accidentally while experimenting with what is commonly referred to as “the choking game,” and they have asked us to encourage you to make safe decisions.”

The choking game is an act of suffocation that is done purposely in order to get high. When a person engages in the choking game, blood flow to the brain is cut in order to experience lightheadedness. A belt, rope or bare hands can be used. According to The Centers for Disease Control it only takes a matter of seconds for someone to become unconscious. Within three minutes memory, balance and the central nervous system fail and death usually follows. Even if someone does not die they can end up in a coma or have seizures.

Kids between the ages of 11-16 are most likely to play the game according to G.A.S.P., which stands for Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play. GASP is a nationwide organization that aims to educate the dangers of the choking game and put a stop to it. It reports that an estimated 200-1,000 kids die each year though statistics are hard to track because many of the cases are reported as suicides.

The CDC reports that 87 percent of the deaths from the choking game have been boys and nearly all the kids that died from playing the game were alone.

The choking game is known by other names including: the pass-out game, suffocation roulette, the fainting game, blacking out, flat liner and purple hazing.

This is the second time in two years that the D-20 community has lost a student to the choking game. In August of 2011 12-year-old GianLuc Jordan, a seventh grader at Mountain Ridge Middle School died while playing the game. Jordan died after being in a coma for several days. His parents have worked to create awareness about the game since Jordan's death.

The CDC lists on its website the warning signs to look out for if a child or teen is playing the choking game. They include: discussion of the game or its aliases, bloodshot eyes, marks on the neck, frequent and severe headaches, ropes, belts and scarves tied to furniture or door knobs and pinpoint bleeding spots under the skin of the face, particularly the eyelids.

For more information visit http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Choking/choking_game.html or go to http://gaspinfo.com/en/home.html.

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