Parents of a California teen who died tragically in what at first appeared to be an exercise machine accident now say they believe their son was intentionally choking himself to experience a high-like state, The Union reported.

Justin Butler, 16, was found unconscious and caught in the Bowflex machine he was working out on. Initial investigations suggested suicide, but that has now been ruled out by authorities.

Butler’s parents also disagreed with the initial idea that he killed himself. "This possibly being a suicide attempt … it didn’t make sense to us," Kendall Butler said.

"He had been bugging me about getting a snowboard pass … He had lots of things to be excited about and look forward to. If you’re going to kill yourself, you’re not going to make plans for the future," she said.

When classmates found out about Butler’s death, some came forward and told the family about "the choking game," which involves cutting off circulation to the brain to force fainting for amusement.

"The kids told us about it and that apparently he had done it before," Butler told the paper.
The Butlers now plan to speak out against recreational choking. Justin’s father Eric Butler said, "my goal is to spread the awareness, starting with our little community here and then go on to bigger and bigger circles."

Click here to read more from The Union.