The news of a mother from Fort Carson who believes her son died from playing the “choking game” last month in the bathroom at Carson Middle School, hit Petra Verhoeven-Jordan in her gut.
“Its disbelief actually, I didn’t want to meet another mom who’s going through this,” Petra said.
On the morning of August 13, 2013, her son, 12-year-old Gian-Luc Jordan, went into his bedroom and never came back out alive.
“He played the choking game. I don’t even like to say that because it’s not playing and it’s not a game,” Petra said.
Since her son’s death, Petra has dedicated her life to learning more about how he died and how similar deaths can be prevented.
“A lot of time it starts out with one kid showing another,” Petra said. “When they play by themselves it can be anything from a shoe string to a belt, a dog leash…anything they can tie.”
“Gian-Luc’s belt was really wide; it was open in the back so if he would have fainted backwards he would have easily fallen out. He fainted and fell forward, and that was the end of it,” Petra said.
She says before his death, she had never heard of the choking game.
“If I would have known about this activity that children are doing around the world and I could have warned him, he could still be here,” Petra said.
She has created a website and offers free presentations to schools, church youth groups, anyone who can start a conversation with kids about the danger…but even that can be a struggle.
“I have tried pretty much every school district in town and I have been turned down. Even if the parents don’t want the children exposed to these presentations, they can get the information themselves and then they can decide how and if they want to tell their children,” Petra said.
She believes education will lead to the “game” being over. Not a child’s life.
For parents concerned that their children may be playing the choking game, the CDC released the following warning signs:
-Discussion of the game, including other names for it, such as "pass-out game" or "space monkey"
-Marks on the neck
-Disorientation after spending time alone
-Ropes, scarves, and belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor
-The unexplained presence of dog leashes, choke collars, and bungee cords.