In writing any piece, at times I do not know who will read it or how it will be received. During these past seven years, I have heard back from my readers and while some have been positive, others were negative. But, writers forge on shining a light on one issue or another to give their opinion of it. I will touch upon two responses to a recent column shortly.
During these past seven years, I have mostly written of political issues and social issues which were the hot topics in that moment in time as I have done in the present. There have been times I walked off the road most traveled by other writers and spoke of something so few had. In the wake of negativity, I have also chosen to write of positive ones in which people were doing something to make our world better. Those are the ones I cherish most.
In writing of the Iraq War as I have been doing for quite sometime now, I have only done so in support of our soldiers. As each piece is written, I try and remind my readers of the lives and promises snuffed out before their time. It was the other day that I chose to write of ‘Choking Game’ which is played by children as young as nine-years-old and I expressed that I had never heard of this game. NBC’s Today Show host, Meredith Vieira did a wonderful job at shining the light on this issue and did so with great care. In those times journalists must rise to the occasion taking into account of the emotions of those they interview. As I watched her, the compassion she showed was quite evident. Then again, she has always done so and her time on ABC’s The View is proof of that.
It was the day after I wrote my piece, I received an email from a mom whose son played this game and it gripped me. The reason it did, was that her son died playing this game. To guard her privacy, I will only use her first name and take out the date of her son’s death. This is when I know that somehow I have made a difference in at least one person’s life. Below is her letter to me.
When Levi Draher stated the reason for playing this game, he cited that “I did it because I was stressed out and stuff.” So, it ties into Mary’s opinion of how our world is changing and not always to our children’s well being.
In my previous piece shining the light on this dangerous and deadly game, I asked, “What exactly is causing these children enough stress that they would even partake in this game? I think that is the larger question for society to somehow answer.” I feel that we need to start discussing this with our children. I will not touch upon the stress factors within this piece, but in future ones. Right now, I choose to focus on this game and I hate even calling it that.
In responding back to Mary, I took great care since this issue was all too real for her given the fact her son is no longer with her. How sad. In part, I wrote, “words cannot adequately express my sympathies to you, Mary. I will pray for your son, Adam and you as well.” At times, prayers are the only thing we can do. Having a venue through the Internet is another thing I can do in order to help others understand this game and in memory to Adam.
After receiving Mary’s email, I was literally floored when I received an email from the police officer that Meredith Vieira interviewed on The Today Show. His name is Scott Metheny. Below is his letter to me.
My name is Scott Metheny and I am the officer that was on the Today Show. Actually I am employed by Upper Moreland Township Police, which is a suburb of Philadelphia (I'm not concerned about the misprint on that at all). I am writing to you to tell you that the association that I am part of is Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play (G.A.S.P.) and you can send your readers to our site at www.gaspinfo.com so they can learn even more. We are also a very small association and are struggling to get funding to support our efforts. If your readers would like to help us, they can make a tax-free donation on the site as well. I thank you for your time covering this very important topic.
I replied in part, “I am sorry about the misprint, but I lifted that from the TodayShow.com web site. I will make sure to visit your site and call my reader’s attention to it. I am very concerned when it comes to the well being of our children.”
In visiting the site, Scott Metheny pointed me to and which I hope you all do as well, the floodgates of emotions opened up. I saw the pictures of children whose lives have been snuffed out who had so much promise had they not played this game and lost. In this particular game the loss is final. There are no do-overs or re-matches.
In giving you the warning signs in the previous piece, in this piece I will relay to all of you what other names are used when a child plays it. The names are Blackout, Flat liner, Fainting Game, California Choke, Dream Game, Airplaning, Suffocation Roulette, Space Cowboy, Pass-out Game and many more. We have all heard of children using secret code on their computers when chatting such as POS (parent over shoulder) if their parents were around, it is equally important to know these code words as it relates to this dangerous game. Lives are dependent upon us in doing so.