WALNUT COVE, N.C. -- It's a game that schools are saying has already claimed lives in North Carolina, and now a school system in the Piedmont-Triad is warning parents to be on the lookout.
"If they take it too far, it's lights out," Rhonda Jackson, principal of Southeastern Stokes Middle School said. "They're not going to wake up."
It's called the “choking game.” It's where participants choke others or themselves to the point where they nearly or fully pass out. It's intended to achieve an almost "high" feeling derived from a lack of oxygen.
"I think they see that there's an exhilaration of this high that they're going to get and they're curious about it," Jackson said. "They want to have that euphoria feel."
The Stokes County school system says they have not had any reports of students "playing" the game. However, they're trying to be proactive by sending out alerts on Twitter and Facebook. Ironically, they believe that students will find out about the game, if they have not already, through similar platforms.
"Do I think kids are thinking about it, or know anything about it? Yes, because [they are] on social media," said Jackson. "They see something that looks exciting to them. No drugs involved, it's just, 'Hey I'll try this, one time.'"
The purpose of the alerts was to get parents to start the conversation with their kids regarding the game.
"It's scary, not surprising though," said Kevin Fischer, a healthful living teacher at the middle school, who also has three children in the Stokes County school system. "It's nothing they have to buy, nothing they have to obtain. They can just do it."
For Fischer, prevention starts with education and monitoring the activities of his children on social media.
"Don't just hope everything's good and turn your back to it. You need to talk to your kids," Fischer said. "Let your kids know, if you want the tablets, the cellphones, they're mine. I can check them at any time."
Experts warn that, outside of death, the effects of the game could result in stroke, seizure, brain damage and memory loss.
"Then, there you are in a different state of mind for the rest of your life," Jackson said. "I don't think at this age they really see the repercussions of it. I think sometimes they feel like they're invincible."
"It's not a game," Fischer said. "They might take it as a game, thinking it's a game, but the end could be the end."