Behind the giggles echoing from the Byron Middle School playground, is a community filled with shock. 12-year-old Kyle O'Connor died from what family friends believe was caused by a game most have never heard of. It's called the choking game. One uses their hands, arms, ropes or belts to make themselves pass out.
"You have to cut the blood flow off, choke off the brain. Then it's when the blood returns to the brain that rush of blood they interpret as euphoria," says psychologist Dr. Terrance Lichtenwald.
But desiring euphoria has killed more than four hundred kids nationwide, according to "Deadly Games Children Play." It's a website dedicated to raising awareness on the choking game.
The Byron School District, Byron Police Department, Ogle County Sheriff and Ogle County Coroner all wouldn't comment on O'Connor's death. Because they don't' know if this is an isolated incident or if this so called game is played frequently.
"It's sad kids would do such a thing and not know it's so dangerous," says Byron parent Donna Krumm.
Krumm's daughter is in O'Connor's class. And says she had no idea such a game existed. Psychologist Terrance Lichtenwald says parents like Krumm should set up a meeting to discuss the dangers involved.
"You are killing yourself and reviving yourself and one of these times it's not gonna work out, it's causing damage," he says.
Brain damage that is. And Lichtenwald says playing the choking game can cause just as much brain damage as a near drowning. So while it's unfortunately too late for the O'Connors, every parent should be aware of what's going on behind closed doors.
Here are a few signs your child might be playing the game. Shoe strings, belts and plastic bags are found in suspicious locations. Or there's markings on the neck, blood shot eyes or you're seeing aggressive behavior.