A 12-year-old boy has died in Oklahoma after reportedly taking part in a TikTok challenge in which participants choke themselves until they pass out. Police officers were called just before midnight Monday to an apartment building in Bethany, where they found the boy unconscious and not breathing, with ligature marks on his neck, per KWTV. He died Tuesday morning at Oklahoma Children's Hospital. Police suspect this was not a suicide attempt but a social media challenge gone wrong. The challenge—variously referred to as the "Black Out" or "Pass Out" Challenge, "The Game of Choking," "Speed Dreaming," and "The Fainting Game," per People—sees a person attempt to "asphyxiate themselves to the point of unconsciousness," Lt. Angelo Orefice tells WMUR. He says the purported claim is that regaining consciousness brings "a euphoria-like feeling."
But this trend has already proved deadly. Massachusetts middle schooler Nate Squires died after attempting the challenge last month, per WWLP, as did 9-year-old LaTerius "TJ" Smith Jr. of Tennessee, who was found with a belt around his neck, per WIAT. That followed 12-year-old Joshua Haileyesus' April death in Colorado after 19 days on life support, per People. On GoFundMe, Joshua's family claimed the challenge had existed for years, but recently found a following on TikTok. The company offered its "profound sympathies," claiming "content that promotes or glorifies dangerous behavior is strictly prohibited and promptly removed to prevent it from becoming a trend on our platform." "Now more than ever due to the lockdowns, kids are bored and looking to occupy their time," Orefice says, urging parents to investigate their children's social media habits. (Read more child death stories.)