A 12-year-old boy from Colorado has died after participating in the latest viral TikTok trend, the “Blackout Challenge.”
Joshua Haileyesus, of Aurora, died on Saturday, April 10, after being hospitalized for 19 days on life support. His family says he participated in the “Blackout Challenge,” a social media trend in which users are encouraged to choke themselves until they pass out. Joshua saw the viral trend, which has been around for several decades, and tried it out for himself.
His twin brother found him unconscious and not breathing on Mar. 22.
After being rushed to the hospital, doctors intubated the young boy and informed his parents that his chances of survival were “extremely unlikely.”
“I would never imagine my son would do such a thing,” Joshua’s father, Haileyesus Zeryihun, told CBS Denver. “I’m paying the price right now, I’m living the life, and I hate for other parents to go through this.”
The family is now cautioning other parents to be aware of the dangerous Blackout Challenge.
“We are also concerned for other families who like ourselves, may not be aware of the existence of the Blackout Challenge and others like it,” they wrote on a GoFundMe page created to help with Joshua’s medical bills. “We urge the community to [spread] awareness about Joshua and the real risks involved in not having knowledge of what kinds of activities children are involved in.”
TikTok has since responded to the news and provided its condolences to Joshua’s family.
“At TikTok, we have no higher priority than protecting the safety of our community, and content that promotes or glorifies dangerous behavior is strictly prohibited and promptly removed to prevent it from becoming a trend on our platform,” the company said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
The CDC encourages The agency encourages health care providers, parents and educators to recognize the signs of the “Blackout Challenge,” which involve discussing the activity, marks on the neck or bloodshot eyes.