Since Jeana Monroe’s 15-year-old son RJ Moore died on Dec. 4, she’s been driven to educate people about what the choking game is so that teens stop dying from playing it.
RJ died as a result of playing a choking game, which is a way to experience a kind of high by depriving the body of oxygen to the point of fainting. While the game is certainly dangerous even with others to act as a safeguard, for RJ, the game turned deadly.
“They play it at parties… and it’s a regular habit of these kids, but us parents don’t know anything about it or if we do know about it we think that it won’t happen to our child,” Jeana said.
Medical examiner Tom Terry told Jeana that while RJ died by playing the choking game, there’s no code for this type of death and officially his death was ruled accidental, but the cause was “probable to choking game.”
This designation is cause for concern for Jeana because the Center for Disease Control doesn’t have a code for keeping track of how many people die of the choking game, but there’s a petition circulating to change that.
“So many kids have died of this, but there are no stats to keep track of it,” she said. “So we have no idea how many kids are dying from it, but it seems to me that it’s a silent epidemic.”
The details surrounding RJ’s death haunt Jeana. She remembers where the chairs were positioned in his room, the type of belt he used and how the belt was positioned around his neck. But she also remembers how much RJ loved his brothers.
“My kid was such a good kid,” Jeana said. “We re-did his room to help with the healing process and his little brother Maxwell, who just turned two, keeps wanting to go in there. He says he needs to go see angel and he’ll go in there and just sit in the room and say, ‘I see angel, I see angel.’
“You have to wonder, does he see something?”
Living with a broken heart, Jeana is dedicating her time and energy to educating parents and teens. She thinks about the signs that RJ was displaying that, if she would have known more about it, would have told her he was playing the choking game: the red marks on his neck, his bloodshot eyes, complaints of stomachaches and headaches, the wear marks on his bed posts, and the fact that he kept asking for belts, but didn’t wear them.
“A lot of schools are afraid to mention this because they think they are giving ideas to our children, but the truth is that they already know what it is and we’re doing a disservice to them in not talking about it,” she said.
And she doesn’t want other parents to go through what she’s going through.
So in her mind’s eye Jeana can see herself making a commercial – a public service announcement – warning kids about the dangers of the choking game. She would introduce herself and tell people about RJ. She would tell them about what the choking game is and how it’s not cool to do because when her son did it, he died.
“When you go through something like this, your heart is just broken,” Jeana said. “If kids won’t listen to anything else, I wish they would just know this –you could potentially ruin your family. I’m never going to be the same again.”
A benefit, which is being held to raise awareness of what the choking game is and to raise money to help pay for the hospital bills from RJ's death and to pay for funeral expenses, will be held from 4 to 10 p.m. Feb. 2 at Bar 525, 525 Wisconsin Ave.