Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Heartbroken Gramma

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: Last May, my 13-year-old grandson was found hanging in his closet. In spite of my daughter's efforts to revive him, he died. Although his death is listed as a suicide, I will never believe that. He was not suicidal. In my search for answers, I have discovered something that I believe your readers should know about. It is a game that children and young teens are playing, and which is often called "The Choking Game." It's also known as the pass-out, tingling or fainting game.

We do not know now and may never know for certain whether this was the cause of my grandson's death. However, the circumstances of his death were very similar to those of children in news stories that I have seen on TV and found on the internet. The point of the game is to cut off oxygen until you pass out, in order to get a kind of "high." It often appeals to kids who would never use drugs or alcohol.

Please alert your readers that this "game" does exist and that they need to caution children that any activity which involves depriving the brain of oxygen is dangerous and can very easily be fatal. I hope no other family ever has to endure the agony to which our family has been subjected. -- Heartbroken Gramma

Dear Heartbroken: Please accept our deepest condolences on the loss of your grandson, and know that your letter may save a young life.

Children and young teens think this self-asphyxiation game is harmless because it's drug-free. They don't realize that depriving the brain of oxygen, even for short periods, risks permanent brain damage and death. Clues to watch for include unusual marks around the neck, bloodshot eyes, complaints of headaches, and paraphernalia such as ties, ropes and plastic bags.

Parents, talk to your children about this game. Do not assume they are unaware or that your discussion will provoke them to try it. Treat it as you would a conversation about the dangers of drugs or alcohol. The best protection your children have is information. Don't let them down.

Dear Annie: I am 83, live alone and am in fairly good health. I volunteer to call elderly people, most of whom are shut-ins and very ill.

It is amazing that so many of them have children and find themselves in the same position as I. My son and I have been estranged for many years. I have tried several times to understand the reason, what I may have done, but he refuses to discuss it. There is no communication between us.

The purpose of this letter is to ask a question of your readers: Why do some of them ignore their elderly parents? We are not asking for much, just a letter or phone call every so often. We really would like to know the answer. Perhaps, in this way, we could remedy the situation. -- Mrs. G. in Virginia


Dear Mrs. G.: There are probably as many reasons as there are children. Some have overbearing parents, others married spouses who discourage a relationship, and sometimes a child simply lacks the emotional wherewithal to make the adjustments and compromises necessary for any good relationship. We are certain to receive letters on the subject and promise to print the best ones.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Proud Wife," whose husband is serving in Iraq and whose customers made disparaging comments about the war.

A simple way for her to let everyone know that she has a loved one serving our country is to purchase a Blue Star flag and display it in the front window of her shop.

These flags are available through the American Legion or at We hung one in the front window of our business while our company president's brother was in Iraq, and instead of negative comments, we had many people offer support for those of us at home. -- Proud Illinoisan

Dear Illinoisan: Thank you for a kind and useful suggestion.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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