12-Year-Old Dies After Choking Himself In TikTok Challenge
Joshua Haileyesus, a 12-year-old boy from Colorado, reportedly passed away on Saturday (April 10) after being on life support following his participation in a dangerous TikTok challenge.
On March 22, Haileyesus was found unconscious after choking himself over what’s known as the “Blackout Challenge.” He spent 19 days on life support before passing away.
Joshua’s family has since set up a GoFundMe page to help cover his hospital and funeral expenses.
“We would like to update everyone that this evening, after fighting the good fight on life support for 19 days, Joshua has gone off to be with the Lord,” the crowdfunding page’s description reads.
“To everyone who has prayed relentlessly and shared our burden during this trying time, we thank you,” the page adds, in-part. “Your prayers and your love have comforted us and we are grateful for your support.”
The page states that Haileyesus was discovered “breathless on the bathroom floor.” According to FOX19 Now, doctors intubated the boy and revealed to his family at the time that his chance of survival was “extremely unlikely.”
“[Doctors] told me the bad news that he’s not going to survive, he’s not going to make it,” Haileyesus Zeryihun, Joshua’s father, told the news station. “I was begging them on the floor, pleading to see if they can give me some time, not to give up on him. If I just give up on him, I feel like I’m just walking away from my son.”
TikTok has since responded to the news and provided its condolences to the boy and his family last month.
“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 “Blackout Challenge,” according to the GoFundMe page has “been around for years” but recently gained heightened popularity due to TikTok’s wide usage. During it, people are dared to choke themselves until they are unconscious.
The family is now cautioning other parents to be aware of the dangerous 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 the page. “We urge the community to spend awareness about Joshua and the real risks involved in not having knowledge of what kinds of activities children are involved in.”