With social media continuing to grow in popularity, more instances of dangerous – and sometimes deadly – outcomes are being reported as participants in online challenges become victims of an unexpected tragedy.
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One such incident took place Friday (June 18), and a family in mourning blames a popular social media challenge for the death of LaTerius Smith Jr.
In a story reported by WREG in Memphis, Tenn., LeTerius was discovered unresponsive in his room. Family says they found the 9-year-old with a belt around his neck and rushed him to a hospital. He didn’t survive.
“To see that baby laying in that casket, hasn’t even had an opportunity to grow up,” said LaTerius’ aunt Barbara Williams. “You know, his life has ended because of some people putting stupid things on various sites.”
The family believes LeTerius was attempting to play The Passout Challenge. Popular on TikTok, the game dares children to choke themselves until they lose consciousness.“It wasn’t until later on that we found out there was some type of video on TikTok, you know, letting kids know … How to strangle yourself, Williams told WREG. “But you got to get out of it, the challenge was to get out of it. But he’s 9 years old, so how was he going to get out of it?”
On June 14, a Massachusetts teen died after attempting The Blackout Challenge. Samantha Thomas, a relative, said the family still can’t believe what happened. Thomas has set up a GoFundMe that has raised more than $22,000 so far.
“All over the world families are losing children to this. We ask that if you cannot donate, please reach out to a child in your life and talk to them about the Blackout Challenge,” Thomas told the press.
In a statement from TikTok, the company told WREG the challenges have been banned from their sites.