• Family warning others of dangers of 'choking game'

    Updated:

    OAKDALE, Pa. - A local family is helping to promote mental health by sharing the emotional story of how their son died.

    Matt and Dana Ziemniak set up a booth at a mental health symposium Friday at Pittsburgh Technical College in Oakdale to warn people of the dangers of the choking game.

    "I always say we're doing this for Evan and for others like him," Dana Ziemniak said. "I just hope we make our son proud, watching over us."

    Their son Evan lost his life playing the game two years ago. He was 12 years old.

    His death was initially ruled a suicide, but his parents fought to get the designation changed to accidental death.

    The game involves suffocating oneself until a point just before losing consciousness.

    "His anxiety and his ADHD, his conditions, I feel led to his death," Dana Ziemniak said. "It led to him trying this."

    Evan's death is one of many examples that led state Rep. Mark Mustio to host the event.

    "So many of our parents and our kids are having these issues and we just want to make sure they know there are programs available," he said.

    If you would like more information on how to speak to your children about the choking game, click here.


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