(SALEM) - The death of a Salem teenager who was found dead in his home last week has been ruled an accident.
According to Coroner Rondale Brishaber, 14-year-old Isaiah Shell died Tuesday afternoon, from positional asphyxiation. Brishaber has ruled the death an accident and the result of a choking game.
Brishaber was contacted after a 911 at 7:35 p.m. from Shell's home at North Hayes Avenue, where Isaiah lived with his parents, Preston and Marji Shell and his siblings.
Brishaber says Isaiah was found in the basement by a family member.
Brishaber says an autopsy was not performed.
Brishaber says the object of the "game" is asphyxiation, as in, to apply pressure restricting oxygen and/or blood flow to the brain. The goal is to achieve a "floaty," "tingly," "high" sensation, produced when oxygen intake is decreased.
When the person becomes unconscious, often in a matter of seconds, the pressure is released and the secondary "high" of oxygen and blood rushing to the brain is achieved.
Brishaber says when teens do this they are often alone, and there is no one to relieve the pressure and the child's own body weight continues to tighten the ligature, usually resulting in death.
Brishaber strongly encourages adults to educate themselves about the choking game.
The Dangerous Behaviors Foundation, Inc. is an organization founded in 2006 to promote education and awareness in an effort to reduce death and injury caused by the choking game.
The DB Foundation says there's no way to determine accurately the number of deaths resulting from the choking game because no public health agency tracks them. However, CDC data indicates between 800 and 1,000 kids between the ages of 10 and 19 die of strangulation each year. Most are recorded as suicides, so the number that are actually accidents is unknown.
The website says if only 10 percent of those deaths were due to the choking game, that would mean between 80 and 100 kids die from this risky behavior every year.
The choking game is especially common among middle school youth. Survey data indicate boys and girls are equally likely to participate in groups, but boys are more likely to attempt it along.
For more, visit www.chokinggame.net
Also responding to the scene were members of the Salem Police Department and Indiana State Police.
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