News April 16, 2021 at 01:00 pm

12-year-old Ethiopian-American boy dies after attempting TikTok choking challenge

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey April 16, 2021 at 01:00 pm

April 16, 2021 at 01:00 pm | News

Joshua Haileyesus passed away after attempting a choking challenge on TikTok -- Photo vis GoFundMe

A 12-year-old Colorado boy, who was left in critical condition after reportedly partaking in a TikTok challenge that dared participants to choke themselves until they lost consciousness, has passed away, his family announced.

According to ABC News, the deceased, identified as Joshua Haileyesus, passed away last Saturday. This was 19 days after he was medically intubated and placed on life support.

A GoFundMe that was initially set up to help raise funds for the Ethiopian American’s medical expenses in the aftermath of the incident said he was found unresponsive on a bathroom floor by his twin brother on March 22. His brother attempted resuscitating him until help came from neighbors and medical officials.

He was later declared brain dead while on admission at the hospital and doctors told his family he wouldn’t make it. “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 WXIX in an interview on March 30. “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.”

His family told the news outlet Joshua probably choked himself with a shoelace in an attempt to partake in the challenge and ascertain how long he could hold his breath. Days before the tragic incident, Joshua’s father also said the deceased boy had boasted to his twin brother he could hold his breath for a minute.

“Unbeknownst to his parents, Joshua had been playing this dangerous game completely unaware of the risks involved,” the GoFundMe account stated. The family said they shared their tragic story with the hopes of spreading awareness about such deadly and dangerous games on social media. They said they also want to prevent other parents from experiencing the pain they’re currently going through.

“I’m paying the price right now. I’m living the life, and I hate for other parents to go through this,” Zeryihun said.

Meanwhile, TikTok released a statement last month commiserating with Joshua’s family, ABC News reported. The video-sharing social networking service also said it does not promote such dangerous challenges or content on its platform.

“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 statement said.

There are currently no search results for the #blackoutchallenge on the social media platform.

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