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Carradine Death Reminiscent of Teen Choking Game

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, June 08, 2009 5:06 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Asphyxiation, Brain Damage, The Choking Game, Teen Safety

Kevin, age 15, died from the choking game which his parents didn't know he was playing.

Carradine Death Reminiscent of Teen Choking Game



IMAGE SOURCE:  MSNBC Web site / image of Kevin Tork

Luke Austin died from choking game in 2004.

Image of Luke Austin, Courtesy Jeanne Marcum

The mysterious death of actor David Carradine last week is reminiscent of “The Choking Game” that leads teens, primarily young boys, to choke themselves to dizziness as the blood flow is reduced to the brain.

Carradine was found hanging in his hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand with a rope around his neck and penis. A leading Thai forensic scientist believes the actor may have died attempting auto-erotic asphyxiation, which cuts off oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal. 

Friends, family and associates have ruled out suicide. They are asking the F.B.I. for help in investigating his death.

The Choking Game

It’s estimated up to 1,000 kids a year die playing the deadly choking game as an alternative to drugs and alcohol.

Choking essentially starves the brain of oxygen, which causes cells to die and the teen to feel dizzy. Upon releasing the choke, blood floods the brain, giving a different sensation.

Children have suffered broken bones, brain damage, seizures, and even death, especially if they are alone and there is no one to relieve the pressure on the neck. 

A Good Kid

The 15-year old Kevin Tork was considered a “good kid,” bright and generous who seemed to have everything going for him.   Kevin was discovered dead in his room by his 11-year-old sister after playing the game or “suffocation roulette” as others know it. 

Kids who are generally high achievers who reject drugs and alcohol seem to believe the activity is safer than drugs.  Kevin always had a smile on his face, his mother said on the Today Show last month. “I would never guess he was doing anything like this.”

Ironically, his father, Ken Tork, had seen a news report on a young person who died playing the choking game and had his son promise he would never engage in such risky behavior. 

Kevin died March 30. Ken says his son’s death has propelled him to go forward to make other parents aware of the dangerous they can see posted on YouTube along with instructions on how to do it. 

He then offered advice to other parents: “Restrict YouTube. Go in right now and password-protect it. Learn the code words for this game. Make it as difficult as you can for these kids to get to these Web sites. They’re showing them exactly how to do it.”

The parent advocacy group, GASP, has a video on its Web site to share with kids including a very graphic and disturbing 9-1-1 call from a 13-year-old to paramedics after he found his brother choked to death. 

The Signs

IB Partner, Joe Crumley from St. Cloud Minnesota offers signs to look for among kids playing this risky game. 

Signs include:

  • Unexplained marks on necks
  • Often but not always women's clothing and/or pornography in closet, under bed
  • Short ropes, padded ropes, neckties tied in odd knots
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Complaints of headaches
  • Locks on bedroom doors
  • Evidence of repetitive hanging such as unexplained marks on the neck or broken or multiple rope abrasion on closet rods

Luke Austin

Last February, IB News published the story of Luke Austin, 13-years-old, also known as L.A., who died alone in his Florida bedroom in April 2004, with a rope around his neck. L.A. was a high achiever who excelled in reading and didn’t like drugs.  

His mother, Jeanne Marcum, only learned about the “choking game” after her son died. She now believes he was playing the game and accidentally fell forward into the belt around his neck.

The CDC report finds that almost 96 percent of the deaths occurred when the person is alone. And 93 percent of parents had no concept of the game until their child died.

"Nearly all parents whose children died were not aware of, or familiar with, this activity before the child's death,” says Robin L. Toblin, of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC told the Washington Post. 

Toblin’s report is in the February 15, 2008 issue of the CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 

Jeanne Marcum concurs.  “I had no idea,” she says about the choking game. See the rest of the story on IB News. #


Posted by Joe Crumley
Tuesday, June 09, 2009 12:31 AM EST

Excellent story, Jane. I hope parents and teachers will learn from the attention these stories are getting, horrible as they are.

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, June 09, 2009 1:40 PM EST

There is a postscript to the L.A. story. Police and the Department of Children and Families thought that L.A. must have committed suicide.

Many of these cases are ultimately listed as suicides.

They took away Jeanne Marcum's three other boys who continue, to this day, to live with a relative. Jeanne is heartbroken but has given up on reversing the decision by a Florida judge.

Comments for this article are closed.

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