The response from the posts I wrote regarding the Choking Game, as well as Real Live Preacher's help and posting have been amazing, in several ways.
First, I remain amazed at how few adults are aware that this game even exists. I am also amazed at the number of people who responded here that they had played this "game" themselves as youths. But I am glad that they visited and felt comfortable enough to leave a comment. Thank you, and I hope your efforts will yield good results.
One of the people who left a comment here suggested it might be better to view life from a child's or a teenager's eyes in order to understand what might be so attractive about this game. I think I agree. One of the things about me that few people know is an ability to remember what I thought and how I felt as a teenage boy. I remember much of it, and all of what I remember includes a constant desire to be accepted.
There is that thing again; acceptance. What would we do to be accepted? Around here, people mostly know they are accepted by God. But what would we do to be accepted by people? I think many of us might feel embarrassed to recall some of the things we did to be or feel like we belonged. Is that a part of this whole thing? Is there more?
I can recall some pretty weird and stupid things I did as a teenager. I can even remember the reasons I did these things, or most of them anyway. At the top of the list (from my memory of a teenage mind) stood "anything to not be bored, it doesn't matter what it is, really".
Another reason was excitement, but as I look back now, so many of the things I thought would be exciting were actually frightening, some of them even taken up as dares. Yes, I remember being afraid to do what I was about to do, many, many times. I'm not talking about the fear that as adults makes us lock our doors at night. I'm talking about the kind of fear that makes your stomach queasy and your arms turn to jello. The kind of fear that kills. How many times did I feel that fear? So many times, I can't remember them all.
And why did I put myself into this position where I would feel such fear?
Isn't it simple?
"All my friends were doing it". I simply could not back down.
Now that I think of it, acceptance probably should have been at the top of my list for reasons to do stupid and dangerous things. In fact, recalling the kind of fear I felt, I honestly can't say that a desire to avoid boredom had anything to do with why I did these things.
I am sure there were other, valid reasons for doing things that would have been considered dangerous, such as not thinking things through to their conclusion. As a child, death seems so very far away, that it really never enters into our plans, and therefore paths that could end up in it are not avoided, necessarily.
However, the things I did with my friends were probably all, or mostly the result of a desire to be accepted, or at least, not ridiculed. As a parent, I think, "Who wouldn't accept my daughter?" Of course, the logical answer is, "Many, many people, all of them in one sort of group or another". In short, my daughter has already, and will many times again feel left out.
What can I do as a parent to help her with this? What can we do to change things?
You know, the more I think about this problem, the bigger and more complex it seems. But I guess I am not scared off yet; I think the idea that this "game" and other dangers that exist are just too complex to solve is only a mask.
The world can be changed. Maybe we won't change it right away, or very much, maybe we won't change it at all. But I think change is possible; the benefits of that change are good for everyone, and to me, that makes it worth any effort, no matter how insignificant.