Education, awareness helps stop the choking game

Ken Tork gave MHS freshman Ty Shepherd an award for his efforts to raise awareness of the choking game.

Ken Tork gave MHS freshman Ty Shepherd an award for his efforts to raise awareness of the choking game.
MEEKER I Almost two years ago, Ken Tork’s 15-year-old son Kevin lost his life playing “the choking game.”
In December 2010, Meeker High School freshman Ty Shepherd wrote an article about the choking game for his journalism class which was also published in the Herald Times. Shepherd interviewed Tork, who lives in Washington state, and Tork agreed to come to Meeker and give a presentation on the dangers of the game that took his son’s life. Shepherd helped raise funds for Tork’s trip to Meeker.
“It’s stuck in my head now,” Shepherd said after the presentations last Thursday night and at an all-school assembly the following day. “I know how it works and how badly parents are affected.”
Since his son’s death, Tork has become an outreach director for Ed4Ed, (Education for Educators) and travels to many communities giving presentations in schools about the “truth” behind the choking game, believing informed youth make better choices.
The choking game is played by cutting off the blood supply to the brain by strangling with a belt, a rope, bare hands or the hands of a friend. When the pressure is released, blood rushing to the brain generates a “warm and fuzzy” feeling. In actuality, it’s just thousands of brain cells dying.
The game becomes more dangerous when played alone. If the individual passes out, his or her body weight can pull on the rope or belt, causing suffocation. There is also a chance of seizures, stroke or injuries from a fall.
Tork’s son was found by his little sister. The 911 call, placed by the (then) nine-year-old girl, was played during the presentation.
“Like us (adults), youth make logical deductions based on the best information available to them,” reads a pamphlet provided for students and parents. “When parents and youth leaders are in the dark or reluctant to address a new risk behavior (hoping their youth will not learn of it — certain their child knows better), youth can easily make tragic errors in judgment.”
Tork dismissed the myth that exposing the truth makes kids want to try it.
“Like adults, when they know better, they will choose better,” Tork said.
Tork presented Shepherd with a plaque for his outstanding efforts to raise awareness for the choking game and called him a “warrior.”
More information can be found at
Tork provided two pamphlets, including one with a picture of a young girl on the front and the acronym G.A.S.P. (Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play). The cover states, “The Choking Game is a misunderstood activity causing death and suffering for thousands of families worldwide. G.A.S.P. is a nationwide campaign set up to fight this ‘game’ with the most powerful weapon at our disposal: education. Together, we can stamp out this deadly game in your community.”