Girl, 12, dies after sick TikTok choking challenge: 'Someone encouraged her'
The incredibly dangerous viral trend known as the “Blackout Challenge” continues to have tragic consequences on social media.
While it's been around in some form online for the last 15 years, the trend grew in popularity in 2022 after children filmed themselves holding their breath until they fell unconscious due to a lack of oxygen before sharing the videos on social media.
It has been blamed for several deaths and some parents sued TikTok over claims that the platform’s algorithm promotes videos of other people doing the challenge.
The trend is also believed to have caused the brain injury which led to the death of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee.
According to GoodTo, parents should look out for their children discussing the challenge, or calling it by other names such as "pass–out game" or "space monkey”.
Other signs of the challenge include “bloodshot eyes”, “marks on the neck”, “severe headaches”, “disorientation after spending time alone, “Ropes, scarves, and belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor” and the “unexplained presence of things like dog leashes, choke collars and bungee cords.”
The challenge has reportedly been linked with the deaths of young childreiStock
The girl, Milagros Soto, was found dead in her home after allegedly attempting the viral challenge which is also known as the "choking challenge," according to local news outlet El Litoral. Milagros reportedly had successfully attempted the challenge twice before, but is believed to have died on her third attempt, according to Jam Press.
The girl’s aunt told Jam Press that the girl had received a WhatsApp message from someone along with a link to the challenge after she had been bullied at school.
"I believe someone encouraged her to do it," her aunt told the publication. "She suffered a lot with bullying."
TikTok was sued in May by the family of Nylah Anderson, a 10-year-old girl who died in the US last December after reportedly attempting the challenge.
Back in November, a Bloomberg Businessweek story linked the current iteration of the challenge to at least 15 deaths in children 12 and under over the preceding 18 months, and another five deaths in children aged 13 and 14-years-old.
While TikTok told The Washington Post that it blocked users from searching for the blackout challenge and replaced the search results with a warning that "some online challenges can be dangerous, disturbing, or even fabricated" along with a link for "more resources," two of the parents suing the company maintain the challenge was on their children’s "For You" page.
TikTok spokesperson Mahsau Cullinane offered the following statement addressing the challenge.
"This disturbing ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend," she wrote. "We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family for their tragic loss."
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