Colorado mom warns of ‘choking challenge’ after losing 11-year-old son

ELIZABETH, Colo. -- A mother who lost her son to a popular online challenge is hoping to let other parents know about its dangers.

Tia Bodkins said the last thing she said to her 11-year-old son Carson were “I love you very much I'm very proud of you," before he went upstairs to pack for a family trip. Ten minutes later, he was not breathing. Bodkins says she performed CPR, paramedics  administered treatment and the team at Children's Hospital worked tirelessly to revive Carson, but his brain had gone without oxygen for too long.

Bodkins says her son had been playing 'the choking game,' which involves cutting off oxygen to the brain to achieve a feeling of being high. Cyber experts say the deadly challenge is spread online.

Those who play the game may have frequent headaches and bloodshot eyes. Bodkins tells FOX31 she wanted to come forward to warn parents about the importance of monitoring their child's online activity. She emphasizes that properly doing so means doing more than just activating safety settings.

“We have internet blocks, internet protections for all of the boys. But I had let him look at YouTube so he could learn skateboarding tricks, I assumed that's what he was looking at," Bodkins said.

She adds that parents must check the online history as well. Stepfather Jason Davis says it is important to protect kids from the dangers that lurk on the internet,  even if doing so breeds resentment.

“As parents, the responsibility lies on us to go in and make sure [kids] are protected, and sometimes that might be an invasion of their privacy," he said.

Carson was a very popular student who excelled at Legacy Academy in Elizabeth.  His desk is marked with loving notes and a flower from grieving students. His locker adorned with final farewell messages.

Principal Kurt Naber tells FOX31 the school is providing counseling and support for students and teachers.

“It is heartbreaking to lose a student so young and it really hits home as the parent of a 5th-grader myself," Naber said.

Naber adds that information is key when it comes to arming parents against online dangers.

"This is probably more widespread than most parents and most schools would assume," he said.

Carson loved sports and skateboarding, and is described as a boy who made everyone laugh and smile. Bodkins says the entire family is trying to stay strong as they cope with the immeasurable pain of their loss.

“We're living minute-by-minute. We're all very sad. We miss him very much," she said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for a skatepark or playground donation in Carson’s name.

For more information about the signs of The Choking Game and ways to keep your child safe visit the following websites:

G.A.S.P  Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play

Child Mind Institute

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Culture of Safety

Time Magazine

AlertMe