Dear Straight Talk: I just read about a boy who died playing the choking game. This really scares me because my sister and some of her friends sometimes do it in our room. I showed her the article and told her she must stop. She just laughed me off, saying they always do it with someone else, while this boy was doing it alone, so it's totally different. We don't get along, so when I started crying at the thought of losing her, she called me a crybaby and said she'd be happy to be rid of me, so why would I care about losing her. That really hurt. She said if I tell our mom she'll make it hell for me - and she will. Even so, I'd never forgive myself if I stayed silent and something terrible happened. Please help. - Worried Sister, Sacramento, Calif.
Rachel, 19: I knew this boy who died. Since his death, many friends told me they have tried the choking game or play it occasionally. This freaked me out. The game has many names: Elevator, Passout, Space Monkey, Hangman, Flatliner. Even played in groups, seizures, memory loss, concussions, and death are reported. Played alone, permanent brain damage and the potential for death increases greatly. You must tell a responsible adult.
Ashley, 23: I've never played it, but nearly all my friends have. Two of them had seizures from it - and there WERE people around! They are lucky they didn't die. Also, when you pass out, you can break bones or get a concussion. It is important to tell your mom so she can tell the other parents.
Molly, 18: I hadn't heard of the "choking game" but how incredibly stupid! Cutting off blood to your brain causes instant brain damage. It is considered an alternative to drugs, but it sounds more dangerous than most drugs. Having a friend watch you give yourself brain damage isn't much smarter.
Jessie, 18: What happens is people get high and don't release themselves from the choking device. Then they pass out and die from suffocation. Except for a local middle school boy who died from it, I never hear about it in my community.
Gregg, 19: You need to involve your parents. How could your sister look back and find fault with someone potentially saving her life?
Katelyn, 16: Who cares if your sister makes it hell for you? Kids die during the choking game, even in groups. Their friends just watch in horror. She is emotionally blackmailing you into staying silent. DON'T BE SILENT.
Dear Worried: Speak up immediately. As Katelyn says, your sister is being hurtful in order to silence you. Don't buy it. Your intervention is truly heroic - and will bring you peace of mind. Most parents will gladly keep your identity a secret. Or inform a teacher or school counselor anonymously.
To ask a question or inquire about
being a youth panelist, visit
or write to P.O. Box 963,
Fair Oaks, CA 95628