At least 82 youngsters have died from the dangerous choking challenge or variations of it as of 2008.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of self-harm that some readers may find distressing.
A 12-year-old is braindead and fighting for his life after participating in a dangerous viral online challenge that encourages participants to choke themselves until they pass out. Joshua Haileyesus was found unconscious on the bathroom floor by his twin brother after reportedly choking himself with a shoelace on March 22, at their home in Colorado. The challenge that's making rounds on TikTok is often referred to as "Choking Challenge," "Blackout Challenge," "Space Monkey," or "Pass-out Challenge," which dares participants to choke themselves to check how long they can hold their breath, reported People. His family said the boy wasn't aware of the risks involved in the challenge. Joshua had reportedly bragged to his twin brother that he was could hold his breath for a minute. The choking challenge is no new phenomenon, with CDC reporting cases way back in 2008. At least 82 youngsters had died from taking the challenge or variations of it as of 2008.
"Joshua was discovered breathless on the bathroom floor by his twin brother who tried to resuscitate him until neighbors and the ambulance arrived," read an update on the GoFundMe campaign started in his name. Joshua is currently battling for his life and the doctors are not very optimistic about his chances. "He is currently being intubated and the doctors have said that his chance for survival is extremely unlikely," reads the update. His father, Zeryihun, was beyond stunned when he was told by the doctors that his son was unlikely to make it. "I couldn't take it there, I was on the floor, I was crying," Zeryihun told KCNC. "It was just heartbreaking to see him, laying on the bed," he added.
The family wants to raise awareness of the dangerous challenge, especially among families that don't know about the dangerous trend. "Our family is devastated beyond belief by Joshua's circumstance. We are saddened that someone who has a future as promising as Joshua is in such a critical and life-threatening situation at the moment," read the description on GoFundMe. "We are also concerned for other families who like ourselves, may not be aware of the existence of the Blackout Challenge and others like it. We are desperate not only to bring Joshua home but to ensure that nothing like this happens to anyone else. We urge the community to spend awareness about Joshua and the real risks involved in not having knowledge of what kinds of activities children are involved in," the campaign description continued.
The doctors have told the family to prepare to say their goodbyes. “Told me the bad news that he’s not going to survive, he’s not going to make it,” said Zeryihun, reported Fox19. “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.” While doctors have told the family that he is brain dead, they refuse to give up. “He’s a fighter. I can see him fighting. I’m praying for him every day,” said Joshua’s father. “It’s just heartbreaking to see him laying on the bed.”
Cover image source: GoFundMe