Kern County parents warn of deadly choking game

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Tim and Karen Landrum didn't know about the deadly choking game until after their son had died.

Teens are using it as a means to get a quick high. Teens use self-strangulation and cut off the flow of blood to their brains. When their hands are released, the blood rushes back to the brain, giving them a feeling that some teens find addicting.

"The signs for the choking game are bloodshot eyes, headaches, marks around the neck, them withdrawing and wanting to spend more time alone. Ropes, belts, shoelaces, anything like that that is lying in their room or hanging in their room. Wearing shirts or jackets with a high collar," described Karen Landrum, who lost her son Mathew to the choking game.

The mother said it's being called the "good kid's game," because most of the kids who are playing it tend to be high achievers.

"They think it's not a drug, it's nothing they have to buy. They feel they are not hurting themselves, and they think they are invisible. They really don't see the repercussions of their actions," said Karen Landrum.

Last November, the Landrums found their son dead. They said Mathew was a good student, a Boy Scout and was always happy.

"He was just a beam of light," said Tim Landrum. "He was a wonderful person."

It wasn't until parents and children came up to the parents, asking them if it was the choking game that killed Mathew. The parents had never even heard of the game and decided to do a little research.

They found out that Mathew was indeed showing signs of the deadly game.

Pass-out games have been around for decades, but with the explosion of social media, more teens are tempted to try it. Teens are posting their videos online of them doing it.

They say if only they had known about the game, they could have warned their son about the deadly risk.

The parents have partnered with Erik's Cause, a nonprofit organization geared toward educating parents and teens about this deadly game.

"I think education is key. To ignore it, it won't make it go away. Some schools and parents think that if we talk about it, if they bring it up, it's going to make kids curious. They are going to try it. But, you know what, they are already doing it out there, and we need to address it," said Karen Landrum.

The Landrums are holding a community event at the Kern River Vets Senior Center to educate parents and kids about the deadly pass-out game at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
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