11-year-old accidentally kills himself in 'The Choking Game'

Published: Sep. 3, 2016 at 2:06 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 5, 2016 at 2:50 AM EDT
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11-year-old Garret Pope Jr (right) and his family. (Courtesy Garrett Pope Sr)
11-year-old Garret Pope Jr (right) and his family. (Courtesy Garrett Pope Sr)

INDIAN LAND, SC (WBTV) - This is difficult to write. A dad in Indian Land and his heartbroken wife reached out. They want you to know their son.

Eleven-year-old Garrett accidentally killed himself Wednesday while playing "The Choking Game." That's where kids cut off their airways just enough to get a sense of euphoria. I'll put a Wikipedia link below with more details on how it's "played."

Garrett just started middle school. One of the attached picture is his first day of 6th grade.

Garrett Pope, Sr. and his wife, Stacy, didn't know about this horrible trend... this "Choking Game"... and are now left planning funeral services for their oldest child. They wrote something on Facebook tonight. It has been shared hundreds of times.

Garrett Sr. said while being utterly devastated, they're also floored by what parents across the country say about similar horrific experiences.

"People need to know about this," Garrett said. "It's not a 'game.' It's senseless. We need to speak up."

Garret Jr. had just started to play football this past Tuesday. He wanted to go to Clemson. His parents said he was funny, smart, an amazing older brother and a great son.

"There are a lot of rumors out there about what happened, and my family wants to share some words of caution," Garret Sr. said. "The Lancaster County Coroner's Office determined this was an accidental death. We do not know where Garrett learned this, but the logical source would be from other kids in school or in our neighborhood. Our tablets and computers show no online research. We know this was not intentional. He didn't know what he was doing. He just took this 'game' too far. We are crushed."

Garrett Sr. has already spoken to the school principal to make sure teachers are aware, too.

In the interest of full disclosure, Garrett Pope Sr. works for WBTV's parent company, Raycom Media. He is not in our building and does not work directly with WBTV News, but we're all absolutely under the same umbrella.

Our hearts are breaking for the entire Pope family.

On behalf of Garrett and Stacy, please talk with your kids. Especially those at young, impressionable ages. Tell them this is not a game.

Tell them an 11-year-old boy in Indian Land made a terrible mistake, and his loving family is left missing him deeply.

"The Choking Game" >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choking_game

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