Choking game claims life of Tennessee boy

A warning tonight from a Tennessee family mourning the death of a child killed while playing a deadly game.

It's called the "hanging" or "pass out" game. Many magazines have written about it, a player cuts off his or her oxygen in order to get a cheap high.

Daniel Sheppard, from White House, Tenn., died while playing the game. He used a piece of cloth to choke himself.

His younger brother tried to help when he realized something was wrong.

"I was sitting down and I was trying to get it off his head, but his head was so heavy I couldn't get it off his neck," said his brother Dawson Sheppard.

Investigators say the choking game is becoming more popular among children Daniel Sheppard's age.

At least 30 children this year alone have died playing this game.

Eleven-year-old Daniel Shepherd wasn't trying to kill himself.

"Apparently it's a game to knock themselves out but, you know, he didn't come back," said David Sheppard, Daniel's father.

The choking game is a stunt popular among kids. They cut off the blood supply to the brain to experience a rush or high just before blacking out.

"I think that people have been doing this as long as people have probably been around," said Dr. Fred Perkins, of LeBonheur Children's Medical Center. "The fact of the matter is that most of the time you get away with it."

However, even those who survive can suffer from permanent brain damage.

"The after effect could be anything from essentially no damage, all the way to a persistent vegetative state," said Dr. Perkins.

What's so frightening about all of this is that many children don't even realize how dangerous it is and a lot parents don't know their children are doing it. So, the most important weapon against this potentially dangerous behavior is information.

Parents should look for these warning signs: marks on your child's neck, bloodshot eyes, sudden complaints of frequent headaches, knots tied in shirt sleeves, belts, ropes and other items. Also look for marks on bed posts, closet rods and railings.

Daniel Shepherd used a piece of cloth. His is one of at least 30 deaths nationwide this year in which the choking game was to blame.