A 12-year-old girl died in the city of Capitán Bermúdez, Argentina due to asphyxiation after doing a viral TikTok trend known as the "blackout challenge." At the time of death, the minor was on a video call with her classmates, so the event was recorded.
The mother found her daughter's body in her bedroom last Friday. The victim's aunt made a post on her Facebook account with a photograph of her niece and the facts:
Hello everyone. My name is Lali. I am making public what I am experiencing. This is Milagros, my little niece, who lost her life today (last Friday) doing a TikTok challenge. Please share. My family and I are inconsolable.
The Prosecutor's Office of San Lorenzo in Argentina is already investigating the incident. The initial suspected cause of the minor's death was suicide. No evidence of abuse or third party involvement was found. The autopsy certified that the cause of death was mechanical asphyxia caused by hanging. In addition, the prosecutor's office has in its possession the minor's cell phone which was used to record the video of her death.
A challenge that has killed dozens of minors
The blackout challenge is as simple as free diving: hold your breath as long as possible. It is something that has been done long before TikTok was born, with the difference being that now one must outdo other competitors on the social network. The lack of air reaching the brain eventually causes a blackout, hence the name. The challenge ends when the person who performs it explains how he or she feels.
The challenge can cause cardiac arrest and asphyxiation. Some also faint and fall, causing them to hit their head or another part of your body that can also lead to death.
It is estimated that the challenge has claimed the lives of dozens of children in recent years. In the United States, the death of 10-year-old Nylah Anderson after performing the blackout challenge had strong repercussions. Her mother filed a lawsuit against TikTok for condoning these practices on its platform. "Tragically, Nylah Anderson is just the latest in a growing list of children killed as a result of the TikTok Defendants' app and algorithm," said Nylah's mother.
Other high-profile deaths resulting from the practice of this challenge were that of 9-year-old Matias Ismael in Tijuana, Mexico and 12-year-old Archie Battersbee in the United Kingdom.
Mental impairment of minors
Certain content posted on social networks is very harmful to minors, who are often the companies' main targets. As we see, it can even lead to the sudden death of children.
Certain advertising or challenges can also majorly affect minors' mental health. As a result, Seattle Public Schools filed a lawsuit against several social networks, such as TikTok, alleging that students are being suggested harmful online content, which increases mental health crises and causes behavioral disorders. The lawsuit also alleges that social media companies not only allow this to happen, but encourage it.
Aside from the Seattle case, fifteen states requested that the Google Play Store and Apple App Store increase the age recommendation for using and downloading TikTok on devices.
Other deadly TikTok challenges
The blackout challenge is not the only TikTok challenge that proved to be deadly. One of them is the "Kia challenge," which involves stealing a car using a cell phone charger or USB cable, which resulted in the deaths of four teenagers in Buffalo, N.Y. in October.
Another harmful challenge is known as "tanker buster," which caused the death of at least two people in Brazil and the United Kingdom. This practice consists of three people lined up and jumping at the same time. The two people at either end have to trip the one in the middle in the air, so the middle person falls backwards, which often results in them hitting their head and causing injury.
Excessive consumption of any drug can lead to overdose. This happened to a 15-year-old teenager on Aug. 31, 2020, in Oklahoma, who dared to perform the the "Benadryl challenge." In this challenge, the participant takes a large dose of Benadryl, an antihistamine that reduces or eliminates the effects of allergies like itching or sneezing. In the Oklahoma case, this young man ingested a large amount of this drug and died.
In 2022, Brooke Ryan, a 16-year-old Australian girl, died performing "chroming," a TikTok challenge that involves inhaling the vapors of personal care products. There was also the case of a Wisconsin couple who were electrocuted to death after performing the challenge called "fractal burning." This challenge involves burning the wood with electricity and chemicals to make art.