(WHNT) — A social media trend has become a nightmare for several families after losing their children to the “game” – with at least nine children under the age of 14 dying for the dare of “how long can you hold your breath.”
The “Blackout Challenge,” also known as the “Choking Game” or “Pass-Out Challenge,” dates back to at least 2008, when 82 children died trying to video themselves doing it. Most of the kids that died that year were between 11 and 16, spreading over 31 states.
In 2021, the “challenge” resurfaced on TikTok, which led the viral video app to ban #BlackoutChallenge from its search engine.
The social media giant is already facing a wrongful death lawsuit after a 10-year-old Italian girl was declared brain dead. She had allegedly tied a belt around her throat to self-asphyxiate.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said, “the choking game involves intentionally trying to choke oneself or another in an effort to obtain a brief euphoric state or ‘high.'”
No stranger to dangerous viral challenges (dry-scooping, climbing on tall stacks of milk crates, etc.), it’s not surprising that TikTok is facing multiple lawsuits.
According to a Bloomberg Businessweek report, at least 15 deaths in children 12 and under were linked to the challenge in the last 18 months, with another five deaths in 13 and 14-year-olds.
Officials across the country have encouraged parents to stay aware of when and how their children are on social media and what they’re using it for, along with paying attention to any viral trends on different platforms.
Signs your child might be attempting the challenge behind closed doors are as follows, said the CDC:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Marks on their neck
- Severe headaches
- Being disoriented after they spend time alone
- Having ropes, scarves, and belts tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor
- Having the unexplained presence of things like dog leashes, choke collars, and bungee cords
Communication is key, experts said, encouraging parents to have open conversations with their kids about the dangers involved and the implications of peer pressure.
TikTok users are encouraged to flag anybody engaged in the challenge by clicking the “Report” button.