‘Choking game’ causes fears at area school

Published 9:59 am Friday, November 18, 2011

Staff at Albert Lea’s Southwest Middle School feel they’ve responded well to a dangerous, sometimes fatal trend with students.

Principal Jean Jordan wrote a letter to parents that was published on Southwest’s website after staff heard some students talking in past weeks about a “choking game.” Jordan alerted parents about the game where adolescents suffocate themselves or others to cut off blood flow to the brain, which can produce a sort of high.

“It’s not enough to scare them; you have to educate them,” Jordan said.

Ellis Middle School officials say the “choking game” is not an issue at this point.

Jordan told parents that kids believe the game is a “safe way” to get high and don’t realize it can lead to brain damage, seizures, stroke or even death. A video about the trend was shown in advisories, which Jordan said allowed for teachers and certain students to discuss the topic in a safe place.

She said she and staff heard from enough students about the trend that they weren’t comfortable teaching all the students more about it.

“We felt it was very important right then and there to say ‘This is what you can do,’” Jordan said. “Overall as a staff, we feel like it was the right decision to make.”

She said she received good feedback from parents, especially ones who hadn’t heard about the trend. The letter on the school’s website directs people with questions or concerns to contact either of the school’s social workers, Reese Druckenmiller or Emily Nelson, or Jim Munyer, the school counselor.

“Kids at this age are so impulsive and don’t think things through,” Jordan said. “Education is one of the best things we can do.”