Family says boy, 12, is brain dead after trying the TikTok ‘Blackout’ challenge

ajc.com

Credit: Via Facebook

Credit: Via Facebook

Child had attempted to see how long he could hold his breath after watching several videos on app

A Colorado couple is hoping for a medical breakthrough after their 12-year-old son has been left in critical condition due to reportedly attempting the “Blackout Challenge,” one of many dangerous-but-popular challenges on TikTok.

Joshua Haileyesus was found unconscious by his twin brother on March 22 at their Aurora, Colorado, home, according to a report by CBS affiliate KCNC-TV. The child is now in critical condition at Children’s Hospital Colorado after attempting to successfully complete a challenge that has become a trend on TikTok, his dad Zeryihun Haileyesus told the news station.

“He’s a fighter. I can see him fighting. I’m praying for him every day,” Zeryihun Haileyesus said of his son. “It’s just heartbreaking to see him laying on the bed.”

The family believes the 12-year-old tied a shoelace around his neck to the point of choking in order to see how long he could hold his breath while doing the “Blackout Challenge.” Doctors have told the family Joshua is brain dead and have prepared the Haileyesuses for the worst-case scenario for the once-vibrant kid, who loves soccer, video games and had an interest in an Army career.

“Told me the bad news that he’s not going to survive, he’s not going to make it,” Zeryihun said. “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.”

Joshua’s father says that a few days before he was found, Joshua bragged to his brother he was able to hold his breath for a minute. The family hopes its story will inspire others to talk about any potential games out there that could seriously hurt another child.

“This is something that kids need to be given to be taught, to be counseled. Because this is a serious thing,” Zeryihun said. “It’s not a joke at all. And you can treat it as if somebody is holding a gun. This is how dangerous this is.”

The Colorado dad said his son had been entrenched with social media, but some of the effects were positive. His son had become fond of cooking, playing guitar and acting due to some of the popular social media influencers on TikTok and other apps. The trend of dangerous challenges on TikTok is not a new one. Other such challenges that have become popular are the Skullbreaker, which has led to multiple injuries and deaths, and the “Throw it in the Air” challenge, which can be seen here.

A family friend, Hirut Yitayew, said he was still in shock but praying for a miracle.

“I can’t even describe the grief and the devastation,” Yitayew told the Denver Channel. “Nobody could ever imagine this would happen to a 12-year-old.”