An amazing, profound experience

June 22, 2010

By Alex Tucker

Writing for The Beat this year has been an amazing experience.

When I first heard that The Issaquah Press was starting a teen section, I jumped at the chance to apply to be on the staff. I imagined it would be a great way to get involved with the community, meet people with interests similar to mine, and, most of all, write.

All of those things happened, and so much more I could have never foreseen. One notably profound experience was writing about the choking game. It is a topic I am very passionate about, especially because of the loss Issaquah High School experienced last year with Kevin Tork.

Writing and researching this issue was a very eye-opening experience and, though emotionally taxing, it was incredibly rewarding. I received a beautiful letter from Kevin Tork’s parents after the article was published, and knowing that my writing meant something to people so close to the topic was amazing.

I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had because of our teen page, and look forward to another year on The Beat staff!

Choking is a deadly ‘game’

March 23, 2010

Alex Tucker

There are many activities that high school students are told to abstain from. Teens are advised against smoking, doing drugs, skipping school and other destructive behaviors.

One dangerous trend that is not often covered, though, is a deadly activity teenagers have dubbed ‘the choking game.’

This is the practice of cutting off blood flow to the brain to achieve a natural high. The key is for the person to release pressure from their neck just before they pass out. But too many teens have died from not freeing themselves soon enough. This ‘game’ is often played with friends and, even more risky, alone.

This ‘game’ has been going on for many years, but the recent use of bonds such as ropes or ties has contributed to its growing fatality rate, in addition to more kids doing it alone. The organization Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play, also known as G.A.S.P., estimates that between 250 and 1,000 teens die each year from the choking game, but statistics are hard to track, because many are reported as suicides.

A place that has experienced firsthand the deadly effects of the choking game is Issaquah High School. On March 30, 2009, the choking game took the life of Issaquah sophomore Kevin Tork. As a student with good grades and a dedication to learning, his death came as a shock to many students.

“I sat next to him in math, and when I came into school one day to find that he was gone, it just blew me away,” junior Hayley Vickers said. “It was very unexpected, because he was the last person I would ever think would go that way.”

Perhaps the most frightening part of this growing trend is easy access to instructions. Sites such as YouTube explain in detail how to play the choking game, and the lightheartedness shown in the videos only encourages teens to try it. The videos do not discuss the immense risk and danger of it; they only portray the choking game as being fun.

The choking game is not an activity to be taken lightly, and the consequences of participating in this immensely dangerous ‘game’ can be devastating.

Local family joins crusade to end the choking game

December 1, 2009

Kevin Tork

Kevin Tork

Stepping onto the stage at Chimacum Middle School in Chimacum Oct. 13, Ken Tork took a deep breath and began saving lives by confronting a deadly game.

Students throughout the state, nation and the world are playing the choking game and Tork said he knows two things about it: That it’s not a game and that it has deadly consequences.

Tork, his wife Kathy, and 11-year-old daughter Kelly Tork know all too well the game’s deadly consequences. The couple lost their only son, Kevin, a 15-year-old sophomore at Issaquah High School, to the game March 30.

Kevin’s death is the reason Ken Tork was called to Chimacum. On Oct. 7, medics arrived to care for a student who’d passed out after being choked by a friend before a third-period class.

Students play the game to get a high, which occurs when their brains are deprived of blood and oxygen. Read more

Off The Press

May 12, 2009

Friends had much to say about Kevin Tork

Greg Farrar

Greg Farrar

“Hey Kevin, I am so glad to have had the chance to have you in my life. You were such a blessing to me and all those around you. You’ve been there for me through so much.”

That is just one of the many notes on cards and letters delivered to Ken, Kathy and Kelly Tork last month after Kevin, 15, their son and brother, died playing a “game” that’s not really a game at all, but a treacherous and risky activity known on the internet as the choking game. Read more

Choking is not a game

April 28, 2009

Grieving parents share their heartache, lessons with others

Kevin Tork earned good grades in school and hung out with his friends. Most recently, he fell in love with poetry and had begun writing, completing six chapters in a book he called “The Mark.” 

But on March 30, Kevin’s life ended at age 15 while he was playing what is known as the choking game. 

 

Kathy Tork mourns the death of her 15-year-old son, Issaquah High School student Kevin. Kathy and husband Ken are certain he accidentally strangled himself while playing the choking game. By Greg Farrar

Kathy Tork mourns the death of her 15-year-old son, Issaquah High School student Kevin. Kathy and husband Ken are certain he accidentally strangled himself while playing the choking game. By Greg Farrar

Read more

Choking game flirts with disaster

April 28, 2009

Adolescents are playing a deadly game by choking themselves to get high. Read more