US student hospitalised after trying dangerous TikTok ‘blackout challenge’


Following an attempt that led a student to the hospital, a school in New Jersey counselled parents to talk with their children about the deadly TikTok ‘blackout challenge’ that has caused multiple deaths since 2021. — Reuters

School officials in New Jersey warned parents on April 17 to talk to their kids about the persistent, dangerous and sometimes deadly TikTok “blackout challenge” after an attempt sent a student to the hospital.

“These incidents are very scary and very avoidable,” South Orange Middle School Principal Lynn Irby Hill said in a letter to parents about the challenge’s popularity, reported ABC 7. “We will continue to warn our students about the dangers of the ‘blackout challenge’ and most, if not all, challenges promoted on social media.”

The challenge entails holding one’s breath until you pass out.

In South Orange, two kids lost consciousness, according to ABC 7. The school nurse aided one, but the other was still struggling to breathe after regaining consciousness and had to be taken to the hospital, where the child was treated and released, reported News12.

School officials emphasised the importance of communication and were planning classes and assemblies to address the issue.

The blackout challenge is not new, nor is it the only social media challenge – dangerous or otherwise. But such practices persist despite the dangers.

In December 2021, 10-year-old Nylah Anderson attempted the blackout challenge and died after being found unconscious in her room. Her mother sued TikTok in May 2022. The same challenge had ended the life of another 10-year-old girl across the Atlantic, in Palermo, Italy, earlier that year.

Some kids try it with outright strangulation, to similar ill effect. In March 2021 a 12-year-old Colorado boy was put on life support, then declared dead, after using a shoelace to choke himself to meet the challenge. A similar fate befell an Oklahoma boy in July of that year.

Other challenges include the “flamethrower challenge” of lighting flammable aerosols, which sent a 16-year-old North Carolina boy to the hospital last April with burns over 80% of his body when the paint can he was using exploded, engulfing him in flames. A flame of a different sort took the life of a Massachusetts 16-year-old in September 2023 when he ate a chip infused with a pepper called the Carolina Reaper.

Not life-threatening, but troubling nonetheless, is the “Kia Boyz challenge” exposing flaws in some cars’ security systems, causing a sixfold spike in Kia and Hyundai thefts in New York City last year. – New York Daily News/Tribune News Service

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