Warning to parents: Twelve-year-old boy brain dead after attempting TikTok ‘choking’ challenge


AURORA, CO – A 12-year-old boy in Colorado is reportedly in critical condition after attempting the dangerously infamous TikTok “Blackout Challenge,” which involves people choking themselves until they pass out.

Doctors overseeing the child’s care have reportedly informed the boy’s loved ones that they should be prepared to say their final goodbyes to the child.


When it comes to social media, every so often there will be some sort of challenge that goes viral. Many of these challenges are fun and innocuous, such as the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” where people helped raise funds and awareness to the disease via pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads.

But at times, there are challenges that make the rounds on any number of social media platforms that encourage dangerous stunts or behaviors. Such is the case with the “Blackout Challenge” that picked up steam on TikTok.

The family of 12-year-old Joshua Haileyesus suspect that his March 22nd hospitalization may have very well stemmed from the “Blackout Challenge” seen on TikTok.

It was on that day that Joshua’s twin brother found him unconscious in the bathroom of their home. The family believes he used a shoelace to restrict his breathing in order to attempt the viral challenge from the platform.

Haileyesus Zeryihun, Joshua’s father, noted that a few days prior to the March 22nd incident, Joshua had been boasting to his brother about how he could hold his breath for a minute.

The child’s father is hoping for a miracle with regard to his son, calling him a “fighter,” and stated that he continually prays for him:

“He’s a fighter. I can see him fighting. I’m praying for him every day. It’s just heartbreaking to see him laying on the bed.”

Doctors have reportedly informed the family that Joshua is brain dead and that he unable to recover from said state. Haileyesus Zeryihun shared his reaction to the news regarding his son:

“Told me the bad news that he’s not going to survive, he’s not going to make it. 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.”

With the proliferation of content available online that challenges content-consumers to reenact dangerous stunts or “challenges,” Haileyesus is hoping the story of his son can help raise awareness for parents to discuss the dangers of participating in these sorts of “challenges” seen online:

“I’m paying the price right now. I’m living the life, and I hate for other parents to go through this.”

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In other news, a mother in Kentucky was recently charged in connection with the death of her two-year-old son after he allegedly consumed narcotics that she’d purchased and kept inside of the household. 

Here’s that previous report from earlier in March. 


LUDLOW, KENTUCKY– A mother is being charged with murder after her two-year-old son allegedly ate drugs that she claims she bought using her stimulus check. 

According to reports, on Thursday, March 18th, 33-year-old Lauren Ashley Baker admitted to police officers in Ludlow that she got the highly addictive synthetic opioid, fentanyl, last week in Cincinnati using the money she obtained from her federally issued stimulus check.  

A police report shows that after Baker obtained the fentanyl, she brought it back to the 200 block of Stokesay Street in Ludlow around 3:34 p.m., where she allegedly shared it with two other people. 

The New York Post reported that Baker then said she “took a shot” of fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine, sometime Thursday before falling asleep. According to police, her two-year-old son then ate some of the drug, which was in her purse, as she passed out.

Baker awoke from her drug induced state some time later when the boy’s father arrived home. The pair allegedly found her purse emptied out and their son not breathing. The police report states that the boy’s unidentified father  called police officers for assistance. 

When officer arrived on scene, they found the boy in respiratory arrest. He was then rushed to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, investigators said.

According to the police report, a substance believed to be fentanyl was discovered scattered across a bed inside the residence, as well as empty packaging for Narcan, a drug designed to block the effects of opioids, The New York Times reported.

Baker is facing charges of murder, importing fentanyl and trafficking of a controlled substance. She remains held without bond at the Kenton County Detention Center, records show. If she is convicted of murder, she is facing up to 50 years in prison.

It’s unclear exactly which stimulus check Baker was talking about to cops. The third round of coronavirus relief to taxpayers was deposited into roughly 90 million bank accounts on Wednesday — days after police say she admitted using stimulus funds to get the fentanyl in Cincinnati, The New York Times reported.

Fentanyl has become a consistent problem across the country, with overdose rates rising daily. In Ulster County, New York, the district Attorney has claimed a win with Ulster County’s first ever manslaughter conviction, resulting from an overdose death linked directly to fentanyl-laced drugs. 

Although this first conviction is just a small peace of the puzzle in fighting the ever growing drug problem in this country, the county district attorney says this still sends a strong message.

WAMC reported that on March 19, a New Jersey man pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, admitting to selling drugs to an Ulster County resident in January last year in Paterson, New Jersey, that he knew contained fentanyl.

Democratic Ulster County District Attorney Dave Clegg says Jamal Thompson’s plea also acknowledged that his actions recklessly caused the death of the Ulster County resident by overdose.

Clegg says:

“We’re treating every case that we come upon, we’re asking our law enforcement agencies throughout the county to treat every overdose death that they come upon as a homicide,”

He goes on to say:

“So if the evidence is there, if we can find out that the person, the drug trafficker who provides the drugs was aware of the dangerous nature of the drugs, and much of that is due to fentanyl.

So if there’s a large percentage of fentanyl in the heroin, if that’s what was used and that there is some indication other people have overdosed or that the potency of it is known by the person who sold the drugs, there’s the potential for either a criminally negligent homicide charge and potentially manslaughter.”

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