The family of 15-year-old Mason Bogard released a video of the last moments they spent with the teenager before he went into surgery for organ donation.
By making the details surrounding her son’s death available to the public, Joann Jackson Bogard is vulnerable to the judgments and opinions of others.
But Bogard has let people have a glimpse of her pain in hopes that future lives will be preserved.
Mason, from Evansville, Indiana, decided to participate in a choking challenge that he had seen on social media. The teen ended up passing away from his injuries and his parents made the brave decision to donate his organs.
That information alone is enough to spark outrage and judgment from people who wonder why a teenager would do something so dangerous when to the adult brain, a choking challenge seems absolutely ridiculous.
Mason is described as a kind and generous young man who loved the outdoors, had a mature sense of patriotism and often thanked veterans for their service.
But the teenage brain is still developing and does not often have the maturity to think things through to the furthest implication. Teens are impulsive, eager and often have a general feeling of invincibility — the idea that nothing bad can really happen because of their youth.
In the case of the choking challenge, youth attempt to make themselves temporarily pass out in order to experience a brief moment of euphoria. The idea has been around for decades, but the prominence of social media has sensationalized the challenge.
“To a younger person it seems fun, funny, a dare, a way to get others to laugh,” Bogard explained on a May 11 Facebook post.
“If someone who is young (with a brain not developed enough to think through all of the consequences of their actions, and whose brain is still impulsive) watches 99 videos of someone doing a challenge (a dare) without a negative consequence, they are more likely to try it too.”
Mason’s parents shared that hospital staff had done all they could to save their son’s life. On May 6, Mason’s brokenhearted family walked alongside his hospital bed as he was wheeled into the operating room for organ donation.
“Go be a hero, buddy,” Mason’s grieving father, Steve Bogard, whispered to his unconscious son.
Mason’s tragic death means that the lives of five people will potentially be saved thanks to his organ donation.
“While we are devastated that we will never experience so many things with Mason again, we are able to find some comfort in the fact that Mason will save the lives of others,” Mason’s mother wrote on Facebook.
“He would have wanted it this way. He was an extremely generous young man.”
“Hug your children, tell them you love them. Enjoy every moment and let the little issues go. We know in our hearts that Mason’s love, generosity, and compassion will live on through those that he is about to save,” she wrote.
Mason’s parents and community are working to spread #masonsmessage, a plea for parents and caregivers to be vigilant and protective about what youth have access to on the internet.
Yes, your teenagers will think you are overprotective and annoying for monitoring their internet behavior, and yes, their friends may be allowed to access the internet without boundaries, but the conversations and potential fights are worth having.
“(Youth) are always creating new ways to find that independence and stay one step ahead of mom and dad,” Bogard wrote. “BUT as parents and mentors, we need to be better at educating them on the real dangers in this world; better at keeping our eye on everything that they are posting, commenting and watching online; better at protecting them.”
“#MasonsMessage is to find a way to keep children from having such easy access to these things. #MasonsMessage is to teach parents and mentors how to talk to their children about the dangerous things that are so easily accessible to our children,” Bogard wrote.
Our hearts go out for Mason’s family during this difficult time.