Mother of deceased teen raises awareness about "choking game"

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- "It's not a game." That's the message from some Milwaukee area parents, who say their kids died while playing the "choking game."

The game involves strangling yourself to the point of blacking out.  Parents say some kids refer to the game as the "good kid's high," because it doesn't involve actual drugs. 

Jeana Monroe's 15-year-old son, R.J., died on December 4th.

"We came home and he was suspended by his loft bed," said Monroe.

Monroe says R.J. died while playing the "choking game."  His body was found by his five-year-old sister in his bedroom.  He had a belt tightened around his neck.  Monroe says the chair R.J. was using to lean on had slipped.

Looking back, she says there were warning signs.  Monroe remembers marks on R.J.'s neck, his headaches and his red eyes.  She says R.J. bought belts but never wore them.

"I believe that he was playing it for a while after looking at the wear marks on his loft bed," said Monroe.

A benefit was held for Monroe's family Saturday in Racine, to help with funeral costs and counseling for R.J.'s siblings.  The host, Craig Witek, knows the consequences of the game firsthand.  Witek says he lost his 12-year-old son, Gage, to the game in September.

"Parents have to wake up and realize that this could happen to their kids," said Witek.

Judy Doyle is another parent who says the "choking game" killed her son.  He died in 2006 and Doyle said her son's friends are now in college.

It's not just adults speaking out.  R.J.'s little brother, Nathan, hopes other kids will hear his words and pay attention.

"I would tell them not to do it cause if something does happen your family and friends would be disappointed.  And you can't do anything after it happens," said Nathan Dupee.

R.J.'s mother says the medical examiner told her that her son did die from the "choking game."  Officially, his death was ruled an accident due to the choking game.  She said her son's friends also admitted after his death that they had talked about.  Monroe said her son also watched a video on how to play the game on YouTube.