05/22/2015 11:33 EDT | Updated 05/22/2016 05:59 EDT

Choking game kills, warns Calgary family after losing son

A Calgary family grieving the loss of their 11-year-old son is speaking out about the controversial game that took his life.

It's known as the choking game and involves youth asphyxiating each other for a temporary drug-free high.

There are concerns that it's still being played in local schools and that neither the students nor their parents are being educated about the dangers.

Kerri Workman understands the perils all too well. She found her son Bryce dead last October.

"I didn't think he was dead.... I didn't know what happened," she said.

Workman, along with her husband Malcolm Eyjolfson, didn't even know what the choking game was. They found out later that Bryce had seen the game in a YouTube video.

It's certainly not a new phenomenon, but there has been a resurgence among younger groups with thousands of the videos posted online. It's even become a challenge for who can stay conscious the longest.

Dr. Andrew MacNab, a pediatrician in Vancouver, has done studies on the choking game and says it's far more widespread than many parents, teachers, and health-care providers realize.

"The problem now is that the activities have become more extreme and worst of all they have become competitive in nature, and children now practice them as a solitary activity, which is when most fatalities occur," he said. 

MacNab says many children don't understand the dangers and there needs to be more awareness.

Workman hopes that sharing their son's story will help 

"It's the hardest journey you can ever imagine," said Workman. "It's the hardest thing that we're going to have to go through."