TURNING OUR TRAGEDY INTO A NATIONAL DIALOGUE TO COMBAT “THE CHOKING GAME”
My son, Erik Robinson, died April 21, 2010 from the Choking Game. Erik was a normal, healthy 6th grader at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California – an “A” student, avid athlete and boy scout. His dream was to go to West Point, enter the military and then law enforcement. He was the opposite of a youth “at risk”. Credible evidence is very strong that Erik’s first exposure to the choking game was during school the day before he tried it at home and died.
Documented incidences of choking game activity on middle school campuses are on the rise. It is an insidious epidemic that kills kids more instantly than drugs, yet denial of its prevalence by adults is so high that it is hard to spread the word in a meaningful way. No parent wants to think their child would do something so ridiculously stupid. Our whole family was in denial – despite police insistence that this was the cause of Erik’s death – until one brave schoolmate spoke up.
When I asked Erik’s school district if they would provide choking game prevention awareness, they asked if we could create a new training without graphic content that would broach the topic as a skills-building process rather than an instructional presentation. Stephanie Small, MFCT and I partnered to create an approach to meet these needs. A multitude of diverse professionals as well as parents and kids provided valuable input as we created it. Piloted in Santa Monica, CA, is was successfully used with a Los Angeles Unified School District middle school and is also being well-received in other parts of the country. This educational PowerPoint video is geared for children ages 9-16. You can watch ”Help Stop the Choking Game” on You Tube or here on this site.
My ultimate goal is for this issue to have the national exposure and dialogue it deserves – the way bullying is finally coming to light. Meanwhile, kids are still dying – approximately one child every week across the US and Europe (by very conservative estimates). Even more are injured. Unfortunately, too many choking game deaths are mislabeled as suicides and many injuries go unreported altogether.
Erik’s dream was to be a soldier – he wanted to save lives. My mission is to honor his legacy by saving the lives of other kids. Please share your story with us, tell a friend, share with others, join our cause and save kids’ lives.
Thank you, Judy Rogg (Erik’s mom)