INDIAN LAND, SC (WBTV) - Thursday marks one year from when many of us first heard about "The Choking Game". Honor student, conscientious older brother and all-around good kid Garrett Pope, Jr., killed himself while playing what he thought was a game.
It was an accident. 11-year-old Garrett tried to choke himself to get a natural light-headed feeling. "The Choking Game" is popular with middle school kids who don't realize it's deadly.
Garrett's mom and dad – Stacy and Garrett Sr. – are incredible people. The day after they buried the oldest child, they sat and talked through what happened in order to TEACH other parents.
More than 300,000 people have watched the story since that day. You can watch it here >>http://tinyurl.com/z3jccjo
In that link you hear me say, "Their pain is deep. They're not sure exactly how to proceed. But in the middle of real life at its worst, here are two parents trying to educate."
One year later, Garrett and Stacy are still educating.
Read this list. This is how Garrett says their family has tried to get the word out about warning signs:
- Raised $26,000, donated to Indian Land Schools. Garrett was big into reading, so the money stocked libraries in classrooms. At Indian Land Middle School Warriors, there's even a section in the library with Garrett's plaque and picture.
- A few months prior to Garrett's death, a 14-year-old Rock Hill student died from the same thing. The York County School system stepped up to the plate and held a panel discussion with parents, community leaders, and the County Coroner. (NOTE FROM MOLLY: I emceed this. Really informative night. Picture below in comments.)
- The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office SC held a series of children’s safety forums. They discussed Garrett’s story.
- After a lot of discussion, the Lancaster County School District, SC met with administrators, and held a forum for parents. "The Choking Game" was discussed. (Original plan was for several forums, but only two took place.)
- Following that meeting, the head of the Indian Land School Improvement Committee (made up of parents) asked Garrett and Stacy to speak at Harrisburg Elementary.
- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools guidance counselors had Garrett and Stacy present to nearly 90 counselors. Their talk included Garrett’s story, what educators can do, the prevalence of this “game” and how social media makes it worse
All of these bullet points are impressive. That last one with CMS and the ability to reach 150,000 kids is a really big deal.
Mostly though, I'm posting this whole thing as a follow up to last year's horrible headline. Wanted to let Garrett and Stacy know we're thinking of them, grateful at their attempts to turn pain into a lesson.
PS - If you haven't seen it yet, watch the story in the link from last year. Again, it's here >>http://tinyurl.com/z3jccjo