You might have read this story last week. Chuck and I talked about it during our show. Every so often, a viral challenge comes around that is so profoundly stupid that it makes me shake my head and wonder how kids have even managed to make to high school. The viral challenge trend goes back years. The cinnamon challenge involved swallowing a teaspoon of the spice without water and led to several cinnamon aspiration and choking incidents. Then there was alcohol eyeballing, which involved pouring alcohol into the body via the eyeballs to get drunker, faster. It can also cause blindness. The fire challenge involved dousing oneself in flammable liquids and setting them on fire. Last summer’s Kiki challenge had people hopping out of moving cars and dancing while they rolled alongside them. The idiocy of these games is at first laughable, then downright scary.
The choking game, though… made me stop cold in my tracks. I was the stupid kid who did that. Back in 10th grade, we called it the “passing out game” and it involved bending over, breathing in and out rapidly, then sitting up and pressing on your neck until you got all tingly. I don’t recall actually passing out from it, but I do remember watching others take it that far at parties. It causes unconsciousness because it deprives the brain of oxygen. I remember thinking there is no way it could be all that dangerous because if you do pass out, your hands would come off your neck, and you couldn’t possibly die. It was like trying to kill yourself by holding your breath. You can’t do that, right? Looking back, I can’t believe how ignorant and foolish I was.
Luckily, none of us died.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for 15 year old Mason Bogard of Indiana. The teen was playing the Choking Game when he passed out and never regained consciousness. He was declared brain dead, and his parents had to make the decision that no parent should ever have to make. His mother, Joann, took to social media to warn other parents about the game, and ended by telling them to “Hug your children, tell them you love them. Enjoy every moment and let the little issues go.”
And last Monday, she and his father escorted him down a hospital hallway, lined with doctors, nurses and staff as they said goodbye and donated his organs. They kissed their son one last time, and his father told him “Go be a hero, buddy” as his organs were donated to five waiting recipients.
Please watch this video, and talk to your kids. Most parents don’t find out about their kids doing challenges like this until it’s too late.