HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - When Linda Lindberg went to wake up her son Alex for school on January 30 of this year, she knew something was terribly wrong.
Call it a mother’s intuition. She knocked on his locked door, but there was no answer. She starting pounding on the door, but still no answer. She ran to find the key. There was nothing that could have prepared her for what she would find behind that locked door.
“His closet door was open, it opened into the room, and he was sitting in front of it. He had a belt tied around the doorknob and the other end around his neck, and was just kind of slumped forward,” according to Linda.
She called 911, but it was too late. She says he was already cold.
Alex, 16, died accidentally after trying something called the “Choking Game”. More and more preteens and teens are trying it out of curiosity and sometimes peer pressure, not realizing how dangerous and even deadly it can be. They use a belt or other object to temporarily cut off their oxygen and create a sense of being high. But most kids don’t realize how often this can cause seizures, brain damage, and even death. If they’re alone and don’t wake up before they fall, as in Alex’s case, they can cause accidental asphyxiation.
Linda still sobs when she thinks back on that day.
"It was just so sad because I know he didn’t mean for it to happen," she said.
Linda hopes to get the word out to kids and their parents that it only takes one time, one bad decision, for an outcome like Alex's.
“A couple of seconds of that feeling is not worth your life," said Linda. "If you’re not going to think about your own life, think about your family."
To try and get the word out to other teens, the Lindbergs had students write a personal message on Alex’s casket to bring home the reality of what can happen from one bad decision.
The students responded, knowing how Alex loved all things plaid. Five hundred classmates wore plaid the Friday after Alex died and took a picture together for the Lindberg family to see.
Alex was a junior at Huntsville High School and had a passion for cars and dreams of becoming a certified auto technician.
“He was always thinking of others, he was always sharing and giving," said Linda. "Just sweet as could be. He was so intelligent."
But she still has trouble understanding how such a smart kid could make this decision. She and her husband had talked to him about the dangers of the choking game about six months before he died. He assured them he would never try it.
She says she knows kids think they’re invincible, but hopes they learn from Alex the choking game is no game at all.
For more information on a memorial fund set up as a scholarship for a high school student choosing the same career path as Alex, visit the Alex Lindberg Memorial page on Facebook.