Investigators think 8th grader may have died playing the choking game

Investigators think 8th grader may have died playing the choking game
By: Erica Byfield

CALLOWAY COUNTY, Ky. - Iinvestigators in Calloway County say it's too early to rule out what's known as "the choking game" as they look into the death of an 8th grade student this week.

Different versions of the choking game have been around for years and despite countless warnings kids all across the country are still playing it. "The hurt that it put on that family, that momma, that daddy it is pitiful" said family friend Sheila Crouse.

Two days after the death of a Calloway County eighth grader Crouse reflects on the devastating loss "I love them; they've been my angels for five years now." She's spent time with the girl's family since the discovery of her body hanging by a belt Monday evening.

Crouse says their daughter's shocking death is crippling the family and she hopes everyone learns from their tragedy. "Please don't do this because it's so hard on families it's just so hard" said Crouse.

News of her death is sweeping through the hallways of Calloway County Middle School and educators are trying to help students cope by having counselors ready and available for anyone who wants to talk.

What warning signs should parents look for that could indicate that their student is playing this potentially deadly game?  I visited Dr. Thomas Holcomb at Murray State University to ask. "They are not as interested in things, grades may be slip, and they are not interested in their friend's, things like this" he said.

Dr. Holcomb adds parents could use this as an opportunity to talk to their kids about the choking game "ask them what they think about this, what kind of things are going on.  Ask them what they've heard about this and what are the risks and did people even look at the risks."
Family friend Sheila Crouse says kids need to understand this is not a game, they're playing with their lives, "if this ends up being that game... they don't realize how hard this on everybody."

In the wake of the middle school student's death the Kentucky State Police will hold an educational meeting on March 15 at 6 p.m. at the Calloway Middle School. Troopers will talk about national trends in asphyxiation, general student safety, and risk of internet sites.