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Mother Suspects 'Choking Game' Cause Of Son's Death

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JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — A Johnston County family is mourning the loss of a 12-year-old boy, whose death, investigators have ruled as a suicide. The boy's family however, believes he died while playing a "game" that is gaining popularity among young people across the nation.

By all accounts, Bryson Hamilton was a happy, well-adjusted child. The sixth-grader at Selma Middle School was even inviting people to his next football game before he died last Monday night.

His mother, LoWanda Dinkins, thinks Bryson may have been playing a "choking game" that she had heard about in news reports that is to blame for deaths nationwide.

Adolescents who play the so-called game intentionally cut oxygen to their brains to pass out. They do so to experience a rush that is involved when oxygen returns to the brain.

Administrators at Selma Middle School, however, say they have not heard of this game and that Selma police say none of their interviews indicate the game was a factor.

Still, the death troubles Dinkins.

"You had to know him," she said. "This was a little boy full of life. He wouldn't do such a thing."

Bryson was home with his older sister at the time of his death and he was happy when he saw his mother at the bus stop just 25 minutes earlier.

Medical examiner Dr. Leslie Taylor says the boy was found hanging by a belt from his top bunk bed and that the evidence does not indicate he was playing.

"If you're going to do that, you're going to have some mechanism for loosening it," said Taylor, who says he has heard of the game.

Taylor admits age 12 is a young age for suicide and says he has only handled two or three cases in his 20 years as the Johnston County medical examiner.

The Hamilton family is concerned because Taylor did not talk directly with them. He relied, instead, on information from detectives.

Selma police say if information surfaces to suggest Bryson may have been involved in this kind of game, they will investigate it.

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