Me in a Nutshell

I live in a log house with my parents and my sister. I am a quiet person, who does what I am told and does not ask questions. I do all of my work and get good grades. At home I usually have a book that I am reading in most of my free time.

Every weekend I do an activity like bike riding, rock climbing, or skiing.

LONE ROCK – Connor Arnott was as normal as normal can be.

His dad was his hero.

“He raised me the best way possible.”

His family gave him good values.

“I believe everyone should use their heads, be smart, work hard, and get as far as they can in life.”

At the end of eighth grade, he was already dreaming about college.

“After high school, I will probably attend college where I will pursue a degree in astronomy and physics. I cannot see the future so I can’t say what will happen after that.”

He was a smart kid who didn’t care if the world thought of him as a nerd.

“I have had a happy childhood. I had a wagon attached to my bike. I have seen fields of grass where a few lone horses grazed …”

Connor Arnott loved every day of his life.

On Oct. 2, 2010, Connor’s mother, Mary, and his sister, Fallon, had risen early on that Saturday morning to go to a basketball game.

The 14-year-old Connor was still in his room when they left.

Nothing could have prepared either one for what they would find when they returned home later that morning.

Connor was hanging from a rope. His body was lifeless.

Two years later, Mary’s hand reaches across the table for her husband Shane’s as she remembers that morning. Around their wrists are the rubber “Remember Connor” bracelets that his schoolmates sold afterwards.

“My daughter, she called 9-1-1,” Mary said. “They all responded so quickly. They tried to resuscitate him. They tried and tried. That part was hard. … It was very hard on Fallon.”

They were just a year apart, this brother and sister. They were so very close.

Fallon had some idea of what happened.

“She was brave enough to tell us,” Mary said. “She told the sheriff first.”

Connor was a victim of the choking game.

I am leading a quiet life.

In the Bitterroot Valley, every day

Watching the different clouds

Roll through

I am an American

I am an American boy

Most of the time

I have quietly followed the rules

The Arnotts hate that name: the choking game.

“We’d prefer that people call it DB, or dangerous behavior,” Shane said. “It is certainly not a game.”

The premise of the practice isn’t anything new.

For generations, youngsters have experimented with depriving their brains of oxygen to the point of unconsciousness. When the pressure is released and oxygen and blood race back into the brain, some achieve a sense of being high.

Not all participants are looking for that sensation. Some try it out of curiosity or as a result of peer pressure.

The practice is dangerous enough when kids try it together. If the victim is alone, without anyone to release the pressure, the result can be fatal.

“In his case, I’m sure it was a curiosity-type thing,” Mary said. “In our case, if he hadn’t confided in our daughter, we wouldn’t have known what had happened. It would have been ruled a suicide.”

“This was an unknown thing to us,” Shane said. “We had no clue. We just flat out didn’t know.”

That’s not unusual, according to statistics gathered by The Dangerous Behaviors Foundation. While up to 80 percent of young people know about the choking game, only 20 percent of their parents have ever heard it mentioned.

Victims range from ages 7 to 21, but 14 seems to be the age that’s most common.

No one knows for sure just how many children die every year from experimenting with the behavior. According to the CDC, an estimated 800 to 1,000 kids between 10 and 19 die from strangulation each year. Most of those are recorded as suicides.

I have seen mountains

united under lightning.

I have seen snow in June.

I have eaten a hotdog in a ballpark

I have read the Gettysburg Address

I like it here

But I will be ready to move on.

The Arnotts don’t want any other family to have to walk this path that they’ve been on.

They know their son wouldn’t want that either.

“You can’t think straight when something like this happens to you, right,” Shane said. “I said no at first, when asked if I wanted to talk about it, but some day I knew that we would talk about this publicly.”

“It’s time,” he said.

On Saturday, Oct. 6th, the family will host the first annual Connor Arnott Memorial Blaze a Trail Project and free chili feed at the Bass Creek Recreation Area’s Larry Creek Group Camp starting at 11 a.m.

“We don’t know who might come,” Shane said. “We don’t really know where this might go.”

They plan to talk in a real general sense about this dangerous activity. And they’ll accept donations for both the Deadly Behaviors Foundation, the leader in choking game awareness and education, and the Connor Arnott Memorial scholarship established at the University of Montana – Western.

“We’re not going to preach,” Shane said. “It is something that we all need to still pay attention to. People forget so quickly.

“There were so many people talking about it right after Connor died,” he said. “Everyone was so shocked that it happened. Maybe if just getting the word out now could benefit someone else.”

“It seems the only hope of curtailing it,” Mary said. “People just need to know.”

Most of the day will be focused on a work project somewhere near the Larry Creek Group Camp.

“Our family has always had a strong focus on outdoor recreation,” Shane said. “We want this event to always have a focus in the outdoors. It could go a lot of different ways. There is no blueprint for it yet.”

Everyone is invited, even if they can just come for a little while.

“This community has just been unbelievable,” Shane said. “They have all been so supportive. We just hope now to be able to give something back.”

I have witnessed

it snow on a day

where there was not a cloud anywhere nearby

I am living a quiet life

in the Bitterroot Valley

seeing the world slowly trickle by

Connor Arnott

Aug. 14, 1996 – Oct. 2, 2010.

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