News 12 First at Five / Monday, June 6, 2011
HEPHZIBAH, Ga.---A youth director may soon be looking for a new job, because of what some kids call innocent fun.
It is a dangerous game that kills dozens of teens every year. It's called "the choking game," "the fainting game," or "passing out." It's basically teens helping each other black out for a quick high.
A concerned parent sent News 12 exclusive video of a group of Cross Creek students "passing out" over the weekend with their church youth director.
Teenagers call it "the choking game" or "passing out" but it's no laughing matter.
"What you're going to do is you're going to lean over and take ten really deep breaths and you're going to stand up, Lonnie's going to squeeze you and I'm going to push your chest and you're just going to like fall over and basically like go to sleep for like 5 seconds. Then you'll wake up," explains one of the teenagers.
News 12 spoke with the teenager in the video, who's trying the game for the first time.
"This is highly dangerous isn't it?" He asks on the video. "No, kids do it all the time at my school," responds another on looker.
"I was kinda worried, a little bit," reflects the teen a few days later over the phone.
His mother, Daphne, was shocked to see the video of her son. "That was the first time I'd ever heard of anything like this. I've never heard of "passing out" or nothing like that before," says Daphne Thompson. "I'm a little disappointed that my kid would consider doing something like that."
"Like be like this," Lonnie Sutton shows on the video.
At the center of the video, is 29-year old Lonnie Sutton, the church youth director at Whispering Pines Baptist Church in Hephzibah.
"Hold you're breathe as hard as you can," says one teen. "Dang he's taking forever," adds Sutton.
On the video it takes the teenager a moment to feel it, then his eyes roll back and he hits his head on a table.
"You good? He started convulsing. I've had that happen to one kid...are you okay?" Says Sutton.
"He could have killed my kid," says Daphne.
Dozens of kids and teens are killed every year. The choking, or breath holding cuts off oxygen to the brain to give you a quick euphoric "high". Some kids never wake up, or end up with permanent brain damage.
"I knew that it had to cut the oxygen off in order for you to pass out but I didn't know any of that stuff," says the teenager on the phone.
"The thing is, he could have survived and been someone completely different he wouldn't still be the son that I know. He knows it's stupid, he knows he made a mistake," says Daphne.
"I would just say, just don't do it. It's pointless," the 17-year old adds.
We checked with the church, they were already aware of the video. They say the youth director, Lonnie Sutton will be suspended without pay while they investigate. I also spoke with Mr. Sutton, he apologizes and calls his actions "stupid" and "irresponsible." He's been the youth director there for more than five years.
They teens were bragging and posting the video online, but the 3-minute clip has since been pulled down from the site.