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Madison mother warns community about ‘choking’ or ‘pass out’ game dangers

Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 11:03 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A familiar challenge circulating social media could kill you.

It is making rounds on sites like YouTube and Tik Tok and is known as the ‘choking game,’ the ‘pass out game’ or ‘space monkey.’ Young social media users will record themselves using some method of head shaking or choking that causes them to faint.

NBC15 spoke with one Madison mom who lives with the pain of what happens when this game turns into a reality.

“I have all these boards of all these memories of this extraordinary, amazing kid,” Annie McGrath said about her son Griffin.

Right now, memories and photos are all she has. Thirteen-year-old Griffin, nicknamed ‘Bubba’ by his mom, competed academically, played the drums and loved baseball.

“He took a dare, and not he’s not here anymore,” McGrath said.

However, on Feb. 14, 2018, Griffin came downstairs to ask his mom a math study question. He went up to his room to Facetime with some friends and never came back down.

“I didn’t know until about 10:30 at night, and I went up and I just thought he was studying, and he wasn’t,” McGrath said. “He was gone.”

McGrath said Griffin died that night playing the ‘choking’ or ‘pass out’ game. The person playing records him or herself performing any one of a variety of methods that makes them lose consciousness. These methods can also lead to brain damage or death.

“I think parents just have to have the hard talk and say ‘kids are dying’ and give examples, there are so many of us,” McGrath said.

McGrath wants to raise awareness for these dangerous games, so kids can make more memories, instead of becoming one.

“It can happen to anybody, the best kids who are well developed, you wouldn’t think they’d do anything wrong, they might see it and try it,” McGrath said. “It’s deadly, it’s horrible, and no parent should ever have to go through it.”

The most recent data from the CDC says 82 6-19-year-olds died between 1995 and 2007. There’s likely been an increase over the last 14 years with this continuing trend.

McGrath tells NBC15 she’s already heard of two more kids this past week who died while playing this game.

Griffin McGrath would have been a senior this year at Middleton High School. Over the weekend, his family and friends came to plant a tree in his honor in front of Griffin’s middle school.

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