(KMOV) -- A grieving mother is warning other parents about a dangerous trend among teenagers. Her daughter died playing what’s known as the Choking Game.
The Choking Game is just as dangerous and disturbing as the name suggests. Teens and even children use a belt, scarf, or cord to cut off temporarily blood flow to the brain to achieve a high. Those who participate in the game consider the Choking Game a safe alternative to drugs or alcohol.
In Leilani Graves’ case, the game went too far, and resulted in death.
Graves, a 14-year-old from House Springs, was found with a belt around her neck in her own bedroom. "I saw her hands and her feet and they were blue ... so I knew she was gone,” said Leilani’s mother, Gloria Graves.
Health professionals warn against the dangers of the game.
"Any time you're cut off blood supply to the brain, however short, even if you're doing it often, you can cause brain damage,” Dr. Rachel Charney, an ER Physician with SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, said. "The problem is not only do kids get high, it's encouraging them to do it over and over again. But they're also more liable to do it by themselves, alone, which is when they can really run into trouble."
In fact, an organization called G.A.S.P. – short for Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play (www.gaspinfo.com) , estimates the Choking Game kills more than 1,000 teens and children in the U.S. each year, and that many cases go unreported.
And while G.A.S.P. warns against the game, there are just as many websites that promote it, showing teens how to choke themselves.
Sarah Nguyen, a friend of Leilani Graves never tried the Choking Game. But she said she knew about it, and knew several classmates who experimented.
"Starting in seventh grade,” she said. “We were like 13, 14. Older kids would do it, but some kids would do it too."
Doctors urge parents to check their children’s rooms for warning signs, examining closets and clothing. "Ties belts, scarves, anything hanging from doorknobs is a sign that you should ask your kids - gently - whether this is something that's been going on,” Dr. Charney said.
It is too late for that conversation at Leilani Graves’ home. But her mother has a message for other parents: “They need to talk to their children and explain to them. Maybe they don't think that this is not a dangerous game. But it can be. Even if they do it in a group, they can still die. Their friends aren't doctors. But friends don't know . They're friends aren't going to be able to revive them” she said.