Local News

Grieving parents warn about 'choking game'

Posted April 2, 2009
Updated April 3, 2009

— The parents of a Holly Springs teenager found dead nearly two weeks ago believe she was the latest victim of the so-called "choking game," which involves asphyxiation.

Jay Anderson found his daughter, Breanna Anderson, 14, a ninth-grader at Holly Springs High School, dead in her bedroom. A scarf was loosely tied around her neck, he said.

"I don't want any parent to ever have to endure this. And this, for myself and my wife, is not going (to happen) in vain," Jay Anderson said.

Jay and Susan Anderso Parents believe teen died during 'choking game'

In the "choking game," someone asphyxiates himself or herself or chokes a friend to the point of passing out. The oxygen deprivation is believed to produce a euphoric high.

Holly Springs police have treated Breanna's death as a possible suicide but can't rule out the possibility she was participating in the "choking game," said public-information officer Mark Andrews.

Prior to their daughter's death, the Andersons had never heard of the "choking game," they said.

"It's no different than taking a deadly drug, but a lot of people don't know about it," Susan Anderson said. "And they need to know about it."

Warning signs were there, Breanna's parents said, but they didn't recognize them. For example, her eyes were bloodshot.

 "The whites were not white at all. They were like a blood red," Susan Anderson said.

Bloodshot eyes, marks on the neck, severe headaches or disorientation after spending time alone are all warning signs that a child might be trying the "choking game," according to the Centers for Disease Control.

According to the CDC, 82 youths nationwide have died since 1995 while playing the "choking game." Most were teenage boys.

As they grieve for the daughter they described as friendly, "beautiful" and "a joy," Jay and Susan Anderson said, they want other parents to keep an eye out for those warning signs – and for children to realize the fatal danger.

"This by no means is a game. It's a lie," Jay Anderson said. "They need to stop it if they are engaging in this activity."

"(Breanna) was a very smart girl. She just did not see the dangers," Susan Anderson said.

Donations can be made to the Breanna Leigh Anderson Memorial Fund, c/o Crescent State Bank, 700 Holly Springs Road, Holly Springs, NC 27540.


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  • mptasinski Apr 7, 2009

    I hope that the folks on here that are leaving degrading comments NEVER experience a death of their child. Why would the parents be in denial when the police told them it was the choking game but that they'd list it as a suicide if no other child came forward to collaborate the story? God help all of you ~

  • pureivy Apr 3, 2009


    Where did you get that definition?

    I definitely agree that all of those acts would lead to disaster, and be contrary to that person's best interests. But that's why they have a phrase called accidental death. I personally don't consider a death to be suicide unless that person intends on taking their life. And, I'm sure you were not implying this, but just to make the record clear, I do not by any means condone any of those behaviors. I just do not call them suicide.

  • Worland Apr 3, 2009

    This is nothing new. Kids were dying 30 years ago doing this. It was to enhace sex back then, not for a cheap high.

  • uvacav90 Apr 3, 2009


    sure, no one will disagree with you about the fact that this a a very tragic incident. i will however argue another definition of suicide. suicide is also defined as the act of doing something that seems contrary to your own best interests and seems likely to lead to a disaster. when you say that "they were just getting high" and "having fun" you relate these kids to other types of people. do you think that someone that dies from an overdose on crystal meth or heroine is considered suicide? what about someone who enjoys or gets a rush out of cutting their self and goes too far? do you cosider that suicide? what about someone who continually has unprotected sex with multiple partners and contracts aids? would you consider that suicide? all of these acts may be considered fun to some people but i would say that all of these acts lead to disaster.

  • pinkfemnc Apr 3, 2009

    Sad about this child. So sad:(

    My friends used to do something like this when I was growing up. They thought it was all fun and games until one of our friends went into convulsions. I would never do it out of fear,but they always did it around me.

  • eternalrage83 Apr 3, 2009

    I remember people playing this game when I was a kid, I think of it now as I thought of it then. Just Evolution weeding out those in the species that are unfit to survive. I feel sorry for the girls family, but honestly being that breathing is an involuntary function of the body anyone with an ounce of common since would know that stopping that process is probably not a good idea. Bottom line, she did something incredibly stupid and payed for it. And unfortunately now her family has to deal with the pain of that mistake.

  • sunshine1224 Apr 3, 2009

    this is so sad...she was such a pretty gurl to lose her life over sumthing as senseless as this. im so sorry for their lose. this is not a game to be playing with anybodys life...

  • xchief661 Apr 3, 2009

    I am in shock. Kids these ages should be playing soccer thinking about other things like going to their proms etc. Yet they are dying.Who is teaching them how to do such things to themselves. Seriously we need to pray for all of our children. The families and teachers don't just teach anymore. Its about watching who is comming into their schools, they have students with guns, strangers with guns, drugs, sex, and now a choking game. OMG! Education isn't just about history, or english, or math anymore. They are trying to keep up with other things to educate the children on as well. It seems the thing now is how to keep our children alive long enough to graduate. Its incredibly sad and I think that parents should be educated on such things to look for. Maybe that would help, I really don't know. The burden weighs heavy on our teachers and the families of those who did not know. I am so sorry for all of you. God Bless! I went to the G.A.S.P website. How heartwrenching.

  • annemarek Apr 3, 2009

    Kids are always doing things their parents know nothing about. This has not changed throughout the years. Sad but reality. I do not know what parents can do to prevent their children from doing anything.

  • pureivy Apr 3, 2009

    "some people consider it a game, smart people consider it suicide."

    Suicide is defined as..."the act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind"

    There is no doubt that this person took their own life, but if they were truly playing a game or trying to get high, there wasn't an intention of death, just of getting high or having fun. So...what would I call it...a tragic accident.