News / Saskatoon

Mom says parents can prevent tragedy through education

The mother of a 13-year-old Saskatoon boy who died from playing the choking game wants to see more parents educate themselves about the fatal nature of high-risk activities.

“Very few parents really know about the high-risk behaviours their kids are up to nowadays,” explained Dawn Dawson, mother of Zachary Dawson whose body was discovered in the basement of the family’s house on Oct. 14, 2011. “With the Internet, kids teach themselves and often try dangerous things when alone,” she said.

Cutting oxygen off from the brain by choking can cause a momentary rush which some adolescents consider harmless when compared to alcohol or drugs.

In the year since Zachary’s passing, Dawson has found support in an international organization called G.A.S.P. (Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play) and is part of a network of parents across Canada trying to raise awareness about the different risky behaviours popular with youth as young as nine-years-old, said Dawson.

A pilot project was launched at Zachary’s school in the weeks after his death to provide parents with an opportunity to hear from mental health professionals and tips on how to prevent such tragedies, said Dawson.

She added that each of Saskatoon’s school boards supports future projects and would consider it a “victory” if she could help spread awareness of the issue across Saskatchewan.

Potential signs indicating high risk behaviours include:

•Strange neck marks

•Unusual headaches

•Knots tied onto objects in their bedrooms

•Worn out marks on bedposts and closet rods

•Frequent disorientation after spending time alone


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