Family blames TikTok strangulation challenge for nine-year-old boy’s death
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The family of a nine-year-old boy who died after being found unresponsive in his bedroom believe his death is linked to a dangerous TikTokchallenge.

LaTerius Smith Jr, known as TJ, died earlier this month in Memphis, Tennessee. His family found him in his room and he was rushed to hospital, but later died.

His family now believe that he was attempting the so-called strangulation challenge, which has been shared by some on TikTok, that dares people to strangle themselves and escape.

His great-great-aunt Barbara Williams told Memphis’ WREG: “It wasn’t until later on that we found out there was some type of video on TikTok, you know, letting kids know … how to strangle yourself.

“But you got to get out of it, the challenge was to get out of it. But he’s nine years old, he’s nine years old, so how was he going to get out of it?”

Williams urged parents to be aware of what their children are looking at online.

“I know you can’t watch them 24 hours, but that in which you can do, you just have to save a life,” she said.

Trends such as the “blackout challenge” have spread on social media apps over the past few years. That particular challenge encourages people to choke themselves until they pass out for several seconds.

In January, a 10-year-old Italian girl died while participating in the “blackout” challenge. In April, the family of schoolboy Joshua Haileyesus, 12, said he had died in hospital, three weeks after he is believed to have taken part in the same challenge.

TikTok’s guidelines prohibit “content that depicts, promotes, normalizes, or glorifies such behavior, including amateur stunts or dangerous challenges.”

A TikTok spokesperson told other outlets that dangerous challenges like the Benadryl challenge and the blackout challenge have been banned by the site.

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