Posted in Choking Game

The Choking Game – 21 Months Ago

The screams of that Saturday morning shortly after 11 a.m. will never be forgotten. The images of two brothers finding their older brother hanging, dead, will never leave their minds. At first we thought it was suicide, but later learned of a game kids are playing to get a high – the choking game. It was a nightmare, one that I don’t want anyone to experience, yet 500 to 1000 families per year face the same nightmare we have.

Matthewmonopoly Matthew was a good kid, loved life, loved his siblings, loved God and his church, loved his job, and already had goals for his future, including learning to fly, maybe becoming a missionary pilot, and taking business classes. He was homeschooled and picked good friends. He loved playing games with his siblings, especially Monopoly. He usually won. But the last game he played, he lost. He lost his life – we lost and miss a dear son. Our children lost and miss a dear brother.

We will never know for sure where he learned it. We could not find evidence of it on our computer that is out in the open in our kitchen. Numerous people told us at his funeral visitation that it had just been on a TV crime show. We think he learned of it there, and thought he’d play it and lost.

We did not know there was such a thing as the "choking game" or autoerotic asphyxiation, which is choking with sexual gratification at the same time. Kids do this in various ways, but mainly cut off their oxygen to pass out, and then come to for some great feeling.

Several months after Matthew’s death, I was getting my hair cut and shared with the woman cutting my hair about Matthew. She had older teen sons, but had never heard of it. The greeter at this salon, a high school student, overheard us, and told me that kids are "playing" this choking game all the time at her school, in the hallways, on the bus, and at parties. She knew a lot of friends who had done this. If you have pre-teen or teenage children, chances are very high they are aware of this "game." Just as you should talk to your child about drugs and sex, this is just as important.

Matthewgravestonebd The death of a child changes parents forever. We are not supposed to bury our children. They are supposed to bury us. There is a missing person at our dinner table and at church the full pew our family takes up has a very missed child. There is a missing card for Mother’s Day and birthdays. There is a missing voice, hug, and a dearly loved person. His picture hangs on the wall, but it does not get older. He will stay 16 forever in our minds. It hurts to the core of your heart. It affects relationships, friendships, and marriages. Others think we get over grief quickly and will not dare mention his name.  If we mention his name, the subject is quickly changed.

Matthew It will be two years in December since Matthew’s death, and though there is more laughter than tears, more joy than sadness, the dull pain is still there, and I’ve been told by other parents who have lost a child, it won’t go away. When I see kids his age, I want to shake them and tell them to never try this "game." I want to tell every parent so they seriously warn their child. If one of my children is in the bathroom too long, it makes me or even one of our other children bang on the door a little harder to make sure everything is O.K. None of my children like hearing screaming, and none of us like seeing or hearing an ambulance. This death changed us, but by God’s grace we are surviving, and we pray Matthew’s death will save others’ lives. Maybe your child’s life.

Matthew’s Memorial Webpage

Choking Game Education:  Deadly Games Children Play:  Awareness, Family Help, Statistics, Victims

Posted in Choking Game, Matthew

A Time to Remember

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven–
A time to give birth and a time to die;
. . .A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, 4


he last week or so I have shared a lot on life, the anticipation of looking forward to another little blessing in the spring, and yesterday, celebrating our twin’s 15th birthday. Life is indeed something to celebrate and rejoice over, but part of life, is death, and we still daily, face new things and the grief of losing our son, Matthew, twenty months ago today.  I spent about four hours in ER on Monday for a bad abdominal pain I’ve had for several days, ruling out an ectopic pregnancy (baby in tube), or an appendicitis.  Thankfully, it was neither. (This is when we saw the flicker of a heartbeat).  We are still watching for gallbladder problems, and hopefully eating good, will keep this from reoccurring and ending up with surgery.  Anyway, just even going to our local ER is hard, let alone, being there, and then for four hours, just rooms away from the room they worked on Matthew in.  I had to be wheeled by it for tests.  We shared with the doctor and she understood some of our pain, as she is a mom, and was the ER doc on call when a child could not be revived after drowning.  She shared tears with us, her tears in relating to the death last week, and just being a mom.  We were thankful for her caring, bedside manner.  (Thank you Dr. Clark).  When we left, she told us she hopes she is on call when we come to celebrate life – the birth of our new baby.

So, tears mingle with rejoicing.  My DH commented on the way home, how Matthew would have wanted to know all the details of the tests.  He would have rejoiced along with the other kids with the news of the heartbeat.  (I can almost hear him saying, "See mom, I told you everything would be ok . . . I was praying.")  As another mom commented just a few days ago, through the rejoicing, there is knowing this will be the first baby, Matthew will not hold until he/she arrives in heaven.  We still get things for him in the mail, almost on a weekly basis.  Just recently a "second notification" for him to apply for life insurance.  He was sent a "warning reminder"  from the Selective Service System for him to register because he is over 18. Now being a government program, you’d think the computer data is intertwined enough, they’d know he’s deceased! 

The sad part too is still hearing often of other kids dying from the choking game, which is another reason I will continue to write on this to bring awareness for new readers to warn their friends, family and children.  Most recently, 9 year old Isaiah Mitchell died August 3rd, found by his mother.  The parents have said they "are determined to make Isaiah’s death serve a purpose . . ." The father has "printed thousands of fliers with his son’s smiling face, the heading ‘Attention Parents’ and a brochure on the dangers of the game."  It hits even closer when it’s in my own state of Michigan. Twelve year old Bobbie Davis of Cadillac, MI died from this game.  His cousin said of him, “He wasn’t a bad kid.  Nobody knew he was doing this and he was the fifth kid in Cadillac [Michigan] to die from this game.”   Here is an incomplete list of kids who have died from the choking game.  Incomplete – yet too long.  Have you talked to your kids yet? 

Another game I just learned of from a mom who lives here in Michigan called the "marshmallow game" also known as  the "Chubby Bunny Game", "Pudgy Bunny Game" or "Fuzzy Bunny Game" and is quite common at sleepovers.  In doing research, I have found churches (here and here and here) promoting the game on numerous websites, sharing how their youth groups play it.  YIKES!  A 12 year old girl played this in school, and died from it, the family suing both the school and the teacher.  Here also is info from a doctor on it:

The game and its variations, which are played by children in many age groups, is played as follows: You stuff your mouth with as many marshmallows as humanly possible and then attempt to speak. If the child is able to say the words, "chubby bunny," then the child puts another marshmallow into his or her mouth; those who are not able to speak are out of the game. In addition, the rules are very specific and players are not allowed to chew and/or swallow; if they do, they are disqualified. The winner is the child who can say "chubby bunny" with the highest number of marshmallows in his or her mouth.
By Joseph R. Hageman, MD, FAAP, FCCM


Tomorrow I will be sharing about an incredible book I’ve just read called, 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life, written by Baptist Minister, Don Piper

Posted in Choking Game, Matthew

This is why . . .

The following is a post that I have been given persmission to share with you from Lauren’s blog, Created for His Glory.  This is why I have and will continue to share about our son Matthew’s death, as a result from the choking game.  Please read it in it’s entirety – and go to her blog to read the many comments she is receiving – parents who are finding out that their children are aware of this deadly game.

Do you know Loni of Joy in the Morning?

She’s recently become a member of the Family-Friendly Blogroll, so I’m not sure how many of you have already visited her. I actually came to know her, although not well enough as far as I’m concerned, last year. Her blog at that time was titled Journaling through the Valley, and what an incredibly deep valley Loni was walking through at that time, her sixteen-year-old son had recently gone to be with Jesus. Loni was doing whatever she could to make sure your child and mine did not leave their families behind at such a young age, as her Matthew.

The following post is one I wrote back in July of 2005. So many of my readers today have young children and I am reminded of how important it is to make sure that unsuspecting parent’s are aware of this immense danger.


I was surfing the net the other night, following links that led me into diverse blog territory.

Yeah, I was spreading my wings a bit when I came upon this. This Memorial page, which is part of a blog entitled, Journaling Through The Valley, caught my attention and I began to read about a sixteen year old boy, from what seems to be a wonderful Christian family, who has recently gone to be with the Lord because of a game called “breath play.” Matthew’s story saddened me so.

I have two teenage boys who I know extremely well, we talk about everything. I knew that this game was not something they had ever been introduced to or, of course, I would have heard of it. So as worrisome as this game may be, I was more concerned for the family that was now dealing with a terrible loss. I read through the page and just as I was finished reading through some of the links from their page, my husband walked past the computer. I stopped him to talk about what I had just read. I’m sure it was the fact that eight youngsters had died from this game just within one fifty mile radius that made him call the boys into the room.

“Have you ever heard of a game called Breath Play?”


“Um, no.”

“Are you sure? It has something to do with cutting off your air passage until you pass out.”

“Oh, is that the name of it?”

I was shocked to hear those words!

Both of the boys were already acquainted with it, although neither knew that it was considered a game or that it was intended as a way of getting a high. One of the boys from my older son’s Christian high school had tried to talk him into trying it. Niko is pretty level headed and told the boy it was stupid. But Kyle, my younger son, never the one to turn down a dare, had been talked into trying it by an older boy both of them play with quite frequently. I was devastated. How could this be?

We talk very often with each of our boys about their need to care for their body, which is the temple of God, and to keep it pure and unsullied. We talk about the evils of smoking, drugs, and pre-marital sex. It’s extremely frustrating to think there are things that we, as parents, are unaware of and thus unable to warn our children about.

I am so thankful that Loni had the strength and love for others in her heart to make this information available to the Internet world. Her blog was the catalyst to a very informative conversation that night, and I believe both of my boys will consider, what might seem like, silly suggestions from friends much more seriously now.

Thank you Loni, I’ll keep your family in my prayers.

Please read the many comments Lauren has received – including those who know others who have done this or died from it.  Please, again, talk to your children.

Posted in Choking Game

The Choking Game

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-10 (KJV)

After our son, Matthew’s death, it seemed we had failed that verse terribly.  We missed something.  How could he have learned of something so dangerous when we thought the hedge was up around our children?  We homeschool.  Did we build too much pride on that, that our children would be protected?  We talked about everything from drugs to sex and yet, this was something we had not a clue of, and Matthew learned of, and it killed him.

Matthew’s birthday is Saturday.  He will be 18 years old – and it’s his second birthday in heaven.  I’d share a little about Matthew’s death – not in detail, as we do not want to give other children ideas.  Since this is a board for mom’s, moms need to know.  Dad’s need to know.  Your kids may very well already know. 

He was "good" kid but, still had a sinful nature.  He felt a tug from the world, and it killed him.  Just months before his death, he took his Bible to the neighbors to make sure this older man knew the Lord.  Matthew wanted to go on a missions trip.  He talked of going to an aviation missionary school. Yet, maybe he loved things of leisure too much – something we missed.  He was too good on computer games.  He could play for hours.  He loved games – and generally won.  Our children are not allowed to watch TV unattended, but when my husband and I were taking two of our children out for a birthday dinner, Matthew watched a TV show in our bedroom we would not have approved of.  It was "just" a crime show on a national network station, but a "game" was shown.  Even though the person died playing the game, kids think they can do it right, and it won’t kill them.  The next morning, Matthew tried this game – the "choking game". It’s a way of cutting off an airway, so they passout, and get some kind of "high" when they come to.  He did not come to. He accidentally hung himself.  His two younger brothers found him.  I gave him CPR, but he was already with his Maker. 

I have since met several Christian families who have lost sons in the same way – something we never envisioned would strike us so.  It was never my desire for this to be part of our legacy, but for some reason God has allowed this to be a part of our lives, and since He promises "that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose", we seek to find the good.  Matthew’s life and death will not be in vain.  There was a purpose.  If children’s lives are saved, if families seek to keep their children’s hearts more fervently, and if we watch for the enemy so much closer, then we can say with the song writer, "It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.  One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase."

It’s my hope and prayer that I can encourage families to continue to keep the prayer shield around their children, but yet, realize, that our children WILL make their own decisions – and it can be life or death decisions.  Does it mean we did wrong?  It may not – but it also means we can’t give up.

Here are some additional links:

I barely finished writing this – actually had uploaded it once to my blog, and I got an e-mail from a gal who told me of another death in our state from this game, and shared the death notice with me.  Another 16 year old boy.  Only two children – now one gone.  It’s real moms.  It’s a real, deadly game.   Give your kids a big hug, thank God for them, pray, and ask God to show you how to share with them, and prevent this from happening to your children.  Warn them so if they have friends who are doing this, your kids can warn them. 

Posted in Choking Game, Grief, Matthew

Thinking of my son . . .

This was sent to me today from another mom who lost a son the same way. It’s not “Scripturally” correct, but touched me greatly. I wonder often what Matthew’s “new job” is in heaven, as we continue, “those remaining behind” to finishing running the race.
There is a special doorway to Heaven. A young man stands there. He surveys all that God has created, the universe and beyond. He gazes toward earth and says a simple prayer for his mother and family. Jesus calls to him and says, “Need not grieve for your family, they are well. The Father has special work for you to do and it includes those of earth whom are so special to you. You are needed here. In time they will see you again and all will be as one. This I promise.”
The young man turns to Jesus and says, “I miss them and they me. My heart wishes to fly through the stars to comfort my mother.” Jesus replies, “There is no love stronger than the love that was created the day of your earthly birth. That love will last for all eternity. It is a part of your mother and all who’s lives you touched. A breath from your mouth she will feel on her cheek. A touch from you she will feel in her heart. Your face with a smile is forever burned into her memory. This will always be. Your words, ‘I love You’ she will always hear.”
The young man smiles at Jesus. They walk arm in arm away from the portal of youth.
This doorway is for those whose lives were cut short for the only reason that our Lord needed them to come home early. Special duties await him, a special task that he will be better able to perform from heaven. His love for his mother is endless. As your broken heart mends you will begin to see that he never left your side. Your shadow no longer is yours, it is him. A gentle breeze that lifts your heart is him.
Author Unknown
Posted in Choking Game

More Firsts & “420”

This was something Norm was dreading, yet, we like to do – barbecuing. Matthew loved to barbecue – and liked doing some cooking (had his own “secret ingredient” bean dip we miss). But during the summer months, like most typical families, we like to barbecue and eat outside. Matthew took over this for the most part, and Norm especially was dreading doing it, yet, we need to continue and start making new memories. He even talked about getting a new grill – because ours is old & we have had to buy several replacement parts for it, but yet can’t justify spending the money on it. Norm did grill tonight & know Norm had that lump again in his throat. He never asked one of the other boys to do it – probably didn’t want to see the pain on their face either. He made great hamburgs and we did have a good time outside. Norm was kinda quiet. Later we had a good conversation just with Stephen outside. It’s neat as the children become “adults” and can have talks and share opinions and concerns, see how our children are growing.

We learned something new today. Maybe we are “too sheltered” and nieve with some things but Stephen keeps hearing the term “four twenty” at his automotive class, and thought maybe it was related to drugs. We were a little nervous what he was hearing, and privately did a websearch, concerned about what we would find out. Our search brought us to the about parenting teens website and shows how there’s different myths with its, such as, there are 420 chemicals in marijuana, April 20th is National Pot Smokers Day, April 20th is Hitler’s birthday, April 20th is the anniversary date of Columbine, 4:20 is a tea time for pot smokers in Holland, but this on the webpage summerized it well:

“Simply put, 420 is a symbol of cannabis and its culture. Today, April 20th events are international, and 4:20 pm has become sort of a world wide “burn time”. It certainly doesn’t matter too much where the term came from because for us parents, it’s a flag, a warning sign that our teenagers may be into something that could harm their future. When you see the symbol 420, be aware of what it represents.


Stephen has heard kids mention this 420, seen it written on walls, so it’s another things to be aware of, if your children say, or hear others using this term. Wish we didn’t have to know though!


Well, the thunder is rumbling as the much needed rain is approaching, so I better end this and get the computer shut off before the lightening does it!

Posted in Choking Game, Family, Matthew

Another First Hits our Hearts

We went to the vet today, for the first time since Matthew died. We have gone to this vet hundreds of times over the past 10 years, many times with Matthew, and the last year he had a lot of his practice driving time to the vet with Norm, and then last fall he did a lot of the visits by himself or with a brother, to help me out. He took his dog’s pups in short before he died (Chocolate lab).We have been doing our home business, Puppy Halfway House for over 10 years, and going to the same vet throughout this time. We have adopted out probably close to a thousand puppies. Norm & I went to the vet tonight – just ourselves. I guess without talking about it before, we were both bracing ourselves for this first. We had a long wait in the lobby, and Norm got a little choked up, think of Matthew when we first starting going – probably around 6 years old – that sweet, innocent age. He loved puppies and dogs. He grew up with them always around. We were the last customers for the vet, and he and his wife talked to us for quite sometime. They knew about Matthew dying, though did not know how, and we told them. They were well aware of this, and were so saddened of what our family has gone through. They really liked Matthew, and appreciated his kindness to them throughout the years. They watched him grow up. We are thankful for their care and even the hugs and understanding. Others feel the pain with us.

When we left, Norm & both had tears on the ride home, remembering. Just that stabbing ache again. Thankful for the times we went with him alone when he was taking driver’s ed. Thankful for the memories. But, ohhhh that sting of death.

Stephen (5 – who will be 18 on Friday) & Matthew (4).