Thirteen-year-old Sam Mordecai's twin brother, Gabe, died recently while playing the "game." Sam found him with a rope around his neck.
"I saw him sitting on the ground with the rope on him and thought he was playing," Sam recalls. "I was like, 'Gabe, knock it off.' "
Gabe and Sam's mother, Sarah Pacatte, told Kauffman, "The first thing you think of is, 'My God, my child, he killed himself. Oh, my God.' And as soon as the thought came in my head, the thought was gone. I knew immediately what Gabriel had done. …I had no doubt in my mind."
Gabe had shut off the oxygen to his brain to get a sort of high, Kauffman explains. Other names for "The Choking Game" include "Fainting Game," "Passing-Out Game," even "Space Monkey."
Sam says he and his brother had played it several times: "It's hard to describe how it feels. It's kinda like, just, like, somewhere not on earth, but you're just dreaming, kind of. But then it only lasts for a few seconds and when you wake up … you don't know where you are or what's going on."