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

A 12-year-old Colorado boy who was hospitalized after his family said he tried a TikTok challenge that dared people to choke themselves until they lose consciousness has died.

Joshua Haileyesus died last Saturday, according to an obituary published online by Olinger Hampden Mortuary & Cemetery in Denver, United States.

He was admitted to Children’s Hospital Colorado on March 22 and was taken off life support after 19 days, according to a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising funds for Joshua’s medical, and now, funeral expenses.

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

Joshua’s father, Haileyesus Zerihun, told the station that a few days before his son was found unconscious, he bragged to his brother about being able to hold his breath for a minute. The so-called “blackout challenge” on TikTok dared users to choke themselves until they pass out.

“Unbeknownst to his parents, Joshua had been playing this dangerous game completely unaware of the risks involved,” the GoFundMe page said.

Joshua’s family hopes their story will inspire others to talk about any games or challenges that could cause serious injury.

“I don’t know why people would do such things,” Zerihun told KCNC. “This is not a joke. This is not a thing to play with.”

A funeral service for Joshua is scheduled for Monday.

– AP