Local News

Grieving parents warn about 'choking game'

Posted April 2, 2009 11:52 a.m. EDT
Updated April 3, 2009 5:17 a.m. EDT

— 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.

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.