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Exclusive: Chandler family hopes P.S.A. will help prevent choking game deaths
The last seven months have been a blur for Joe Chandler and his wife Sopha. They’re still in shock after losing their daughter, Aja, to the choking game.
In March, Joe Chandler found his daughter's body in her bedroom. Aja accidentally killed herself experimenting with the choking game. Only days after Aja's death, Chandler shared his story so that others could learn from it, but more so, to keep Aja's memory alive.
“She's really gone,” Chandler says. “Far too soon for such a stupid act, that unfortunately so many kids have done.”
Chandler kept his word from that most difficult day. He has connected with a family in the United States, who suffered a similar loss. Together, they have teamed with an American production company and are in the midst of creating a public service announcement, to raise awareness about the choking game. He wants every child to know the risks.
“They (have) to know when they experiment, they might be taking their own lives,” says Chandler.
Chandler hopes to take his message nation-wide.
“We certainly don't want any other family to go through such a needless loss,” says Chandler. “It's tough.”
Aja's headstone was put in place last week, just ahead of what would have been her 12th birthday. An intimate group of friends and family members gathered to celebrate her life.
“She was a special girl. A lot of people loved her,” says Chandler.
The website rememberaja.org, provides parents with information and resources, including how to talk to your kids and what behaviours parents should be watching out for. To date, the website has raised more than $10,000, some of that money has helped pay for the P.S.A. It’s expected to be out by the end of the year.
Chandler recently finished a pond in his backyard, Aja's pond. It's a place to reflect, and remember the beautiful girl she was.