Heartbroken mum warns others of deadly choking game after losing son, 14

Selina Booth, who son Jack died after playing a deadly choking game, with his scool friends Chloe Dunlevy, Harvey Waters, Hew Morrison, Sam Catalano and Niall Michell.
Selina Booth, who son Jack died after playing a deadly choking game, with his scool friends Chloe Dunlevy, Harvey Waters, Hew Morrison, Sam Catalano and Niall Michell.

A heartbroken mother has spoken of her determination to stop children playing the deadly “choking game” which took the life of her 14-year-old son.

Todmorden High School student Jack Pickles died in February after playing the game - also known as “the good boys game” in his bedroom.

Todmorden boy Jack Pickles died after playing a deadly choking game.

Todmorden boy Jack Pickles died after playing a deadly choking game.

And his mother Selina Booth, who believes her son played the game after seeing it on the internet, said more needs to be done to raise awareness of the dangers of the game to prevent more children and teenagers losing their lives.

Mrs Booth, who is a sales rep at Nestle in Halifax, said she intends to set up a charity in her son’s name and plans to give talks at schools about the dangers of it - as she did at Todmorden High last week.

“I don’t call it the choking game. I call it lose. Because you lose your life and we lose you,” she said.

“Don’t think it’s safe because it causes seizures, hemorrhages, memory loss and there are kids in comas because of it.

“If you are playing it now my message to you is to stop. You can stop because it’s not an addiction. Stop before it’s too late.

“Do you want it to be your mum who hugs clothes that you’re not in anymore just to smell you? Do you want your mum to ask your mates around so she feels that little bit closer to you?

“Jack is my best friend. We just did everything together - shopping, wrestling, holidays and days out.

“He was just funny. He was always doing something, whether it was eating silly food or telling jokes. He loved football, especially going to watch Burnley.”

Mrs Booth found her son lying dead in his bedroom on February 2 and said that’s the day “her life as she knew it ended”.

“Jack loved YouTube. He had his own site on there. I think that’s where he found that choking game,” she said.

“They call it the ‘good boys game’ because it’s not taking drugs or alcohol. They actually think it’s not going to harm them.

“Statistics show that the first or second attempt is when they die from it. We definitely think this was the first time with Jack because there were no warning signs.”

The warning signs include: blood shot eyes, marks on the neck, moles that are bleeding, participants locking themselves in their rooms or wanting to be alone more, participants covering their necks, and hearing loud bangs in the night.

Mrs Booth said she is determined to get the danger message out there and plans to raise it with Prime Minister David Cameron.

“I will get to Downing Street,” she said. “I will get the Chief Coroner’s Office knowing about this game, the police knowing about this game, schools knowing about this game and doctors knowing about this game. At the moment they don’t even know the warning signs.

“The Americans have Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play (GAME) but over here there’s nothing. I would like a charity in Jack’s name so no other parents go through what I’m going through. Or if they are then a place they can come turn to. I just need help in fundraising it and getting it there.

“There’s lots that needs stopping really. I don’t want another kid going down as a suicide because of this game. It’s not fair on anyone who got the suicide verdict. We got accidental death because the Coroner was aware of this game.”

Following Jack’s death a room at Todmorden High School was set aside in his memory, a teacher bought a star and called it “Our Jack”, a tree has been planted in the school grounds, and a bench and shelter is to be erected in the teenager’s memory.

Over £1,000 has been raised towards the £2,000 target for the bench and shelter via a bag pack at Morrisons, a donation by Bailey’s Gym, Walsden, a sponsored run undertaken Jack’s class mates from Turf Moor in Burnley to Todmorden High School, whilst close friend Chloe Dunlevy has made and sold bracelets. To donate to the cause - with any extra funds going to the ‘Make a Wish Foundation’ and Todmorden Youth Club - visit https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6xfC5

Niall Mitchell, 15, who was Jack’s best friend, said: “I knew Jack since he was four years old. I have been through everything with him. He was funny, outgoing and wasn’t shy about anything really. He brightened anyone’s day.

“I was devastated when I found out he had died. I didn’t know how to react. A big part of me has gone.”

Chloe Dunlevy, 15, who was Jack’s first girlfriend, said: “We just want to raise awareness about the choking game and stop people doing it.”

Jack left a brother and sister Tommy and Maeve, mum Selina (pictured) , dad John, step day Dave and step mum Kate, as well as hundreds of friends.