Mom Issues Plea to Parents as She Prepares for Son's Death After He Tried the 'Choking Challenge'
"Mason attempted a challenge that he saw on social media and it went horribly wrong."
An Indiana mother has issued a warning to parents as she prepares for the death of her teen son, who she says was critically injured while doing the social media “choking challenge.”
Joann Bogard shared a smiling Facebook photo of her son, Mason Bogard, on Sunday, revealing to the public that Mason is expected to die as a result of the “unimaginable, heartbreaking” incident.
“We’ve learned that Mason attempted a challenge that he saw on social media and it went horribly wrong. The challenge that Mason tried was the choking challenge,” Bogard wrote in the Facebook post. “Unfortunately, we will not have the opportunity to experience so many things with our child because of a stupid challenge on social media.”
Evansville, Indiana, police did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.
The choking challenge has gone by many names over the years, including “Flatliner,” “Pass-Out Challenge” and “Space Monkey,” according to TIME. The goal of the act is temporary asphyxiation to achieve a brief moment of euphoria. In 2008, the CDC reported 82 deaths had been attributed to the “choking game” in recent years.
The game, once spread through word of mouth, is now popular on social media sites, with many using the #ChokingChallenge hashtag. In February, a Vancouver family said their 13-year-old daughter Gabby Perez died as a result of the choking game, according to NN. Last fall, 11-year-old Carson Bodkins of Elizabeth, Colorado, died doing the “choking challenge” after seeing videos of the act on YouTube.
Mason was still alive on Sunday, according to a Facebook post, but Bogard said doctors have done all they can for Mason and the family was preparing to donate his organs after his death.
“While we are devastated that we will never experience so many things with Mason again, we are able to find some comfort in the fact that Mason will save the lives of others,” Bogard continued in her initial post. “He would have wanted it this way. He was an extremely generous young man.”
The grieving mother ended her statement with a plea to parents everywhere.
“Finally, we want to plead with you from the bottom of our hearts … please pay attention to what your children look at on social media,” she added. “I know our kids always complain that we’re being too overprotective but it’s ok, it’s our job.”
Bogard has joined the growing number of parents working to prevent children from taking part in the deadly challenge and educate parents about the dangers of such Internet fads.
Ken Tork’s 15-year-old son died in 2009 when he “accidentally strangled” himself while participating in the “choking game,” Tork has said. Since then, the grieving father has devoted his life to preventing similar deaths through an education program that teaches students about the dangers of taking on deadly Internet challenges.
“We want these kids to know that these dangers are real,” Tork told KING. “The injuries are real. The death is real.”
Sharron Grant founded the nonprofit Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play (GASP) after her 12-year-old son, Jesse, died in 2005 as a result of the game, according to Time. And Judy Rogg founded Erik’s Cause to honor her late son and educate students about the harms of the game.
“It’s gotten more extreme,” Rogg told Time of the game’s popularity, noting that she has met with other mothers who have lost children to the game. “I don’t want to see another mom sad like this”
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter