COLUMBIA, Mo. - Columbia Public Schools sent home a letter to parents warning them of a dangerous game some students are playing called the "pass out game" or the "choking game".
It's anything but a game.
Children try to strangle themselves or each other to cause them to pass out and get a "high" from it.
After getting two reports from two different schools, West Middle School and Two Mile Prairie Elementary School, just this week, CPS officials sent a letter to parents in all schools letting them know what is going on.
CPS Spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said she hopes the letter causes parents to talk to their children about how risky this "game" truly is.
"Our students do not realize how serious and dangerous this activity is," Baumstark said. "It sounds harmless when something is called a game and you can find it easily on YouTube, so that's concerning."
Clover Chenoweth is a mother at West Middle School. She said she was shocked when her daughter came home from school and told her they had played the pass out game.
"She said a group of children played a game during free time at school and it was a game that would cause her to pass out," Chenoweth said. "I immediately panicked and told her the game is unsafe, and that I even had a friend whose son died from the game."
That friend is Neecy Jarman. It's been nearly four years since she came home from work and found her son dead in his bedroom after playing the game.
"You go into shock and nothing is ever the same again," she said.
She had no idea her son had ever played. In fact, she had never even heard of this game when he died. Ever since, she's been trying to make other parents aware of this potentially deadly activity.
"I never got a chance to try and show him how dangerous this was, what it does to your body," she said. "I do still think he could be alive if there was education surrounding it."
The game goes by many different names: the choking game, the pass out game, blackout, knockout, and flatliner to name a few. It can also be played many different ways -- all equally as risky.
And children playing usually have no idea of the consequences.
"When I told her she was shocked, she said, 'We were just playing a game, we only passed out for a few seconds,'" Chenoweth explained.
But in those few seconds, brain cells are killed, seizures can occur, and a child can hit their head on the way down.
Both parents and officials agree: education of the game can be the best prevention.
"I just want to see parents arm themselves with this information to stop it because I know what it did to our family and I don't want to see another family go through this," Jarman said.
Most of the children that die from the game are between 11 and 16 years old. Most are also playing alone when they die.
For more information, visit this link CPS sent out in their letter from the CDC that explains what exactly the game is and how to spot signs your child may be playing: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/Choking/choking_game.html .
You can also check out this link Jarman uses to educate school officials, other parents, and children about the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0BCP2xRuHg .