For Kevin’s Sake

should I talk to my kids about THE CHOKING GAME?

Posted in Uncategorized by kltork on February 5, 2010

I am about to share something with you about my sons death that you might find uncomfortable to read but if you love your child like so many of you know we did then I beg of you to read on. He was experimenting with ”a very dangerous craze that has been invading our schools for YEARS, a craze that we as parents knew nothing about but has been steadily growing in popularity amongst our kids. It is called THE CHOKING GAME and even though we protected our son with all the armor a parent can, someone got to him. Someone told him it was ok to do this “GAME”. That someone helped kill my son. I have been finding out some things about it in the last few months that I want to share. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this you too will know about it and will then have an idea of how to protect your children.
Hundreds and hundreds of kids have died playing this game. There are websites that tell them exactly how to do it, not to tell their parents or counselors or teachers, how to get the materials, how to make the materials, how to clear the history on their computers so their parents wont find out, how to use code words like choke out, the game, spider monkey, spunky monkey, etc. They even say where to do it, in empty class rooms, bathrooms, dad’s garage, the basement. I read that one of the “rules” of this game is that when they have a ”choking party” everyone has to play and if someone won’t play then they have to leave and that they are no longer considered friends. This peer pressure during the teen years is a very strong motivator that can drive a normal kid to do the most abnormal things. It continued on to say that if your parents tell you it’s unsafe, don’t believe them they aren’t cool enough to know. I read one site that said to take one of dads old ties and tie it around a doorknob, to lock the door and sit in front of it so your parents or siblings cannot come in, then to play their itunes really loud and party on!
We also learned that 90% of the fatalities are boys because girls tend to participate in larger groups. Either way it can be deadly. Two of the most shocking things we have found out are that most parents have never heard of it and if they did hear of it they didn’t listen long enough to find out what it was or they believed that their kid would never do something like this. The other is that the schools do not want anyone to come and talk about it because they are afraid it might put ideas in their heads. TOO LATE! Schools and churches are the two most common places these kids learn about it. approx 25 % of the kids surveyed that admitted to participating in THE CHOKING GAME state that they do this do it at school regularly! I have even had one parent tell me about a church youth leader showing them how to do it at a church retreat! I even found a picture of a young man doing it at church camp and he later died trying it alone.
It is imperative that we as parents DEMAND that our schools include education about this activity as they do other risky behavior. One of my sons friends told me this ” one of the things that upsets me about adults is that they think we are stupid, we are young we are not stupid. If they want us to know the truth about something tell us the truth about it. Tell us about this stuff BEFORE we are at a party somewhere having our friends pressure us into trying something that might hurt us because they might not know themselves that it is dangerous. Its better if we learn about it from our parents or our teachers than it would be to find out in the back room of somebody’s house.”
I have completed 5 presentations here in the Seattle area and the feedback from the kids has been very encouraging ..things like
” Thank you Mr.Tork. I have done this before but I will never do it again now that I know it can kill me”. or ” because you came to our school I now know what to look for and will say no if anybody tries to get me to do it.” One girl said. “I think you should come to our school every year and tell everyone from 6th grade up”.
Education is imperative to learning and the time to talk to your kids is now before someone maybe even your child dies.! its time to bring this deadly craze out in the open.
If you have not been there already please follow the link to the DB foundation website on the right side of this page. Up in the left corner of their opening page you will see a link to “victims”. Please scroll through that list and you will see who is dying from this. You will see your child in those faces because those are the faces of every child everywhere.
There are many parents out there who will say ” my son/ daughter knows better I don’t need to talk to them.” Yea, I thought that too but you know what ..they don’t know better! Let me tell you why. Their friends are telling them its safe and fun because they see people doing it on the internet. They are not being told otherwise and we ASSUME that they will “just figure it out”. Well they aren’t figuring it out. They are dying from it. Another myth is that if we tell them about it they will run out and try it .WRONG!!! They already know about it! what they dont know is the TRUTH about it.
Since my son passed last March there have been another 58 suspected cases and we believe we only hear of about 20% of the actual cases..Do the math!
The bottom line is if the education system wont tell your kids them its up to you. As a parent who lost an amazing gifted involved child I cna tell you I really wish someone had told me or my kid about this BEFORE it was introduced to him as ” safe & fun”.
Fathers you need to be willing to invade your child’s privacy, you need to monitor and talk to your children graphically. Spot check the history on the computers. TAKE IT OUT OF THEIR ROOMS IF IT IS IN THERE, block YOU tube so that if they need to go there they do it with you present. Don’t let them talk on chat lines even if it is in a “safe” game environment. They will not talk to you about this unless you start the conversation. Almost every teenage boy I talked to have said they know of it or have played it and would never be able to tell their parents for fear of getting in trouble. I just like most of you didn’t know how deadly or widespread this activity was and I truly believed that my kids were safe. Surely the schools knew about this. Surely they talked about it. They talk about everything else. I was wrong!
The GASP web site states that the most effective tool against this are the kids talking to the families of those that have died. dont be one of those families! Kevin went to Issaquah high school here in Washington state. There were about 100-150 kids up there at his funeral. I believe that most of them are now pretty safe and if you read about the conversation I had with my son before he died, Kevin has saved those kids but what about next year, what about the kids that weren’t there,the ones that that didn’t know Kevin. They are in school today maybe doing it right now as I write this post! How do we reach them? We as parents need to go in force and DEMAND that our schools talk about this. TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN. SAY SOMETHING! TELL THEM THE TRUTH!!!
There is nothing I would not do to have just one more minute to tell my boy how proud I am of the man he was. To run my fingers through his hair, to see his whole body jiggle when he thought something was funny, to share a joke that only he and I got, to do just one more thing together as father and son. To ride our 4 wheelers around the yard JUST ONE MORE TIME!. To one more time sit at the table late at night in the dark and just talk, to hear him say just one more time “I love you too dad”.
Please don’t go back to your lives and forget Kevin Tork. He would have sacrificed himself for any one of your children and never thought twice about it. Cherish every second you have with your child. Our world changed on Monday March 30th at6:37 pm When will yours change? Which one of you will be next? Help me stop this deadly, fatal activity before it takes your child.
Let me leave you with this. I had a customer email me just yesterday about a conversation that took place in the back of her best friends car. Her friends daughter was sitting with a friend and the friend said ” let me show you this neat game I learned today. I put my hands around your neck and squeeze until you get dizzy. Its really fun and it feels good.” Both girls are 7 yrs old. So if you think it cant happen to your child ..Think again!I can be reached at Thank you

4 Responses

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  1. Jacob A. Swanson said, on February 24, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    First I would like to say nice work on putting this blog together! If you or anyone else needs to find all the information needed for your site, i would recommend this one!

  2. Thedie Green said, on September 23, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Thank you for sharing your story in such a beautiful and moving way! I plan on sharing your story with some co-workers and parents in the hopes that they will talk to the children in their lives about this awful activity.

  3. barbara said, on March 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    What to do you when you know your child is doing it and have confronted her and she doesnt think anything is wrong with this behavior. Whenever I tell her its fatal she tells me ok. when i tell her children die doing this she says ok when i tell her she could go blind from damaging her retina again i get ok.

  4. kltork said, on March 4, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Hello, I am sorry it took so long for me to respond but we had a death in the family ( father in law) and had to go out of town for the funeral. I am deeply troubled by the response from your child. and I need to inform you that I am not a counselor and any advice I could give would be strictly one parent to another. My first thought is to pray. God has helped us on this journey is so many ways that I have come to turn to him first on all things. Second you need to determine whether or not she would be agreeable to couseling. It sounds as if she is somewhat apathetic toward the dangers. This is one of the first things that needs to be addressed… Why is she apathetic? . Has your daughter been engaging in this alone or in a group setting? If its only been in a group thats a hopeful sign as she has not progressed into doing it alone and at least there are others there in the event she gets hurt. Alone is somthing that will require further scrutiny and possible immediate intervention.
    Communication is key in either case,. She needs to know you are there unconditionally with out any judgement. If you have a family minister, youth leader or school counselor she trusts, that might help as well in opening lines of communication. Try and find out why she is doing it in the first place. Is she troubled by other aspects of life and are the pressures too much for her to process. Any of the teen sucide prevention hot lines in your area would be a good place to start as they have trained counselors ready and standing by with informaton and resources and can possibly direct you to counselors in your area that can start you on your journey.
    Doing nothing is the worst thing you can do. It will not go away on its own and please try not to let fear cause inaction. I will pray for your family and please let me know how I can help. My wife and I would be more than willing to talk with your daughter personally if you think that will help. I would gladly share with her what we have learned on our journey. I dont know if this has helped you or not but know we are here for you and your family. May God be with you as you move forward.
    sincerely ,
    Ken Tork
    Outreach Coordinator ED4ED

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