12-year-old boy dies after trying viral ‘blackout challenge’

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DENVER (KDVR) — Joshua Haileyesus, a 12-year-old Colorado boy hospitalized after participating in the viral “blackout challenge,” has died.

“After fighting the good fight on life support for 19 days, Joshua has gone off to be with the Lord,” an update on the family’s GoFundMe said. “Your prayers and your love have comforted us and we are grateful for your support.”

Joshua was found struggling to breathe on the bathroom floor in late March. His twin brother attempted to resuscitate him before first responders arrived at the home.

The “blackout challenge” has been around for years, daring participants to choke themselves to the point of passing out in order to gain a sense of euphoria. 

The dangerous challenge, which also goes by the names “pass-out challenge,” “the game of choking,” or “speed dreaming,” is gaining popularity on TikTok.

In March, Joshua’s father, Haileyesus Zeryihun, warned against the challenge.

“I would never imagine my son would do such a thing. The reason I came out today is to warn the people, everyone, that there’s no joke about choking,” he said. “This is not a game, this is deadly.”

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