After attempting a TikTok challenge that dares people to choke themselves until they lose consciousness, a 12-year-old boy from suburban Denver was in critical condition. Joshua Haileyesus' twin brother discovered him passed out in the bathroom of their family's home in Aurora, Colorado, on March 22. Doctors have announced the boy is brain dead.
Boy, 12, Brain Dead After TikTok Challenge
The Colorado boy is fighting for his life upon participating in TikTok's "Blackout Challenge." According to Haileyesus Zeryihun, his father, the boy used a shoelace to choke himself.
The family stated he was "completely unaware of the risks involved" in the viral game that dares people to see how long they can hold their breath. Aside from the "Choking Challenge," it is also referred to as "Blackout Challenge," "Pass-out Challenge," or "Space Monkey," reported People.
According to Haileyesus' father, "[The doctors] told me the bad news that he's not going to survive, he's not going to make it." He was begging them on the floor. The father pleaded to see if they could give him some time, not give up on his child. He added that he would feel like he was just walking away from his child if he gave up on him and reported Newsweek.
A group on Monday gathered in front of Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora to pray for the 12-year-old on life support. Zeryihun said, "He's a fighter. I can see him fighting. I'm praying for him every day. It's just heartbreaking to see him laying on the bed," reported AP.
According to doctors at the hospital, his chances for survival are "extremely unlikely." His parents say that social media has helped expose Haileyesus to some of his biggest passions, including playing the guitar, cooking, and acting. However, it has also brought the family to this despairing event.
The father is now hoping that the family's devastation could alert other parents regarding the viral social media game. It has been around for a while and has also been seen on other platforms, including YouTube.
The online challenge is not new in the world of social media. Back in 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attributed 82 deaths of young people to a variation of the challenge.
Also, according to the boy's father, a few days before the incident, Haileyesus was bragging to his twin about how he could hold his breath for over a minute.
According to a spokesperson for the TikTok app, the challenge is not trending, and when users search for it, they are redirected to the app's community measures and self-harm resources.
The spokesperson for TikTok wrote in an e-mail that their profound sympathies go out to the victim and his family. At TikTok, he stated, they have no greater priority than protecting their community, and content that patronizes harmful behavior is strictly prohibited and promptly removed to prevent it from trending on the social media platform.