Though he grew up in a close-knit family, Joe has felt lonely and isolated all his life. As a child, he was tormented by neighborhood boys, and his father viewed him as a failure. At age 8, Joe learned "the choking game," in which a person uses his hands to cut off the oxygen supply to his brain to get high. Joe loved the sensation, and choked himself daily throughout childhood. In high school, Joe discovered drugs, and now he's a heroin addict. Joe is killing himself, and his family is desperate to intervene.