An 11-year-old South Carolina boy who had just started middle school died on Aug. 31 after playing a popular game.
Garrett Pope accidentally killed himself playing the "choking game," in which children deliberately cut off oxygen to the brain to feel a brief sense of euphoria, WBTV reports.
"He was so young and impressionable, he didn’t know what he was doing, and made a terrible mistake," wrote his father, Garrett Pope Sr., on Facebook.
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Now Garrett's parents are trying to raise awareness about this dangerous trend.
“People need to know about this,” the boy's father said. “It’s not a 'game.' It's senseless. We need to speak up.”
"We do not know where Garrett learned this, but the logical source would be from other kids in school or in our neighborhood," he added. "Our tablets and computers show no online research. We know this was not intentional. He didn’t know what he was doing. He just took this ‘game’ too far. We are crushed.”
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The parents now beg other parents to talk to their children about the game.
"My family has never felt pain like this before, and we don’t anyone else to go through what we are going through," wrote the father. "Please talk about this with your kids, and do everything you can to prevent a similar tragedy."
Stacy, the boy's mother, said she had warned her son about the game during the summer, but it wasn't enough. She advises parents to especially warn their children about the game's risks.
“I should have pushed it further,” she said, the Rocky Hill Herald reports. “If you talk to your kids and they said they don’t know about it, don’t stop there. You educate them on what it is, it’s not a game and it can kill you.”
Garrett had just started the sixth grade and excitedly began playing football only one day before he died.
His parents said their eldest child was funny, smart and a great brother.
"We miss him," ends the grief-stricken Garrett's father in his Facebook post.