Warning to oldsters after boy’s tragic TikTok dying

A boy who was hospitalized and was life sustaining after participating in a TikTok challenge has died.

On March 22nd, 12-year-old Joshua Haileyesus took part in the viral ‘Blackout Challenge’ on TikTok without being aware of the risks involved.

He was hospitalized and the doctors told his family there was little chance he would survive. He died on Saturday, 19 days after his hospital stay.

Joshua Haileyesu has died after being hospitalized after a TikTok challenge. Source: GoFundMe

“We want to keep everyone informed that after 19 days of fighting the good fight for life, Joshua went out tonight to be with the Lord,” says GoFundMe.

“We thank everyone who prayed tirelessly and shared our burden during this difficult time. Your prayers and love have comforted us and we are grateful for your support.”

Joshua’s twin brother found him passed out in the bathroom of the family home in suburban Aurora on March 22nd. KCNC-TV reported that doctors told relatives the boy was brain dead.

Joshua’s family had no idea he was taking on the TikTok challenge, GoFundMe says.

The Haileyesus family hope their story will inspire others to talk about games or challenges that could cause serious injury.

Joshua Haileyesus, pictured in front of a lake, was life sustaining after taking part in a TikTok challenge

Gifted 12 year old Joshua Haileyesus is remembered as intelligent, funny, and caring. Source: CBS Denver

“I don’t know why people would do such things,” Joshua’s father Haileyesus Zerihun told KCNC.

“That’s not a joke. You can’t play with that.”

His family remembers Joshua as “incredibly intelligent, funny, caring, and gifted” and stated that he intended to join the army before becoming a first responder.

Before the family confirmed that Joshua had died, TikTok released a statement expressing its condolences to Joshua and his family.

What Parents Can Do To Protect Children From Viral Challenges

The Australian eSafety Commission said it was aware of the dangerous challenges facing social media.

The story goes on

In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said that dangerous challenges can come in a number of forms.

Often times, these challenges can result in serious injury to participants or sometimes tragic death.

“This is not the first dangerous challenge online, and unfortunately it will not be the last. Therefore, parents and educators need to be aware that they can play a role in minimizing the potential impact,” said Comm Inman.

“This problem is difficult to deal with because warning children of a new risky online challenge can actually entice them to give it a try, especially once they learn that it is popular online.

“We encourage parents to carefully address the problem when talking to their children and to reiterate the importance of thinking critically about things they see on their favorite platforms and the things they can do to stay safe online.”

The Australian eSafety Commission wants all social media platforms to do more to prevent dangerous challenges from going viral.  Source: Getty Images

The Australian eSafety Commission wants all social media platforms to do more to prevent dangerous challenges from going viral. Source: Getty Images

Advice from the eSafety Commission to Help Parents and Educators Protect Children

  • Pay special attention to children at particular risk to make sure they are not being targeted.

  • Do not introduce the idea or name of a particular challenge or risk behavior unless young people are already aware of it.

  • When young people are aware of a dangerous challenge, talk about how bad the injuries could be and ask how they would feel if they were pranked and shared online.

  • Remind them that respect and empathy for others is far more important than getting laughter, likes, or followers.

  • Don’t show them videos of a dangerous challenge, even to warn them of the risk.

  • Advise them not to watch or share videos of the challenge for themselves.

  • Encourage them to report videos of the challenge to the apps or services they were posted to. The eSafety guide has a list of the links you can use.

Comm Inman said social media companies need to do more to keep harmful challenges from going viral.

A search on TikTok for #blackoutchallenge returned no results. A notice states that the phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates the site’s guidelines.

“At TikTok, we have no higher priority than protecting the security of our community. Content that promotes or glorifies dangerous behavior is strictly prohibited and will be removed immediately to prevent it from becoming a trend on our platform,” it says in a recent statement from the company month.

According to TikTok, challenges that glorify dangerous or harmful actions will be removed from the platform.  Source: Getty Images

According to TikTok, challenges that glorify dangerous or harmful actions will be removed from the platform. Source: Getty Images

Comm Inman admitted that TikTok has historically notified the eSafety Commission of dangerous challenges that violate community guidelines and that reported videos have been removed.

“For this reason, we strongly encourage the industry to adopt a concerted ‘safety by design’ approach that encourages platforms to take precautions at the front end to prevent online damage rather than reacting after the damage,” said Comm Inman.

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