A 12-year old boy has died after participating in a viral 'black-out' social media challenge that left him brain-dead and on life support for more than two weeks.
Joshua Haileysus from Aurora, Colorado was discovered unconscious by his twin brother on the bathroom floor of their family home on March 22. He spent 19 days on life support before dying from his brain injuries on April 10.
It later emerged he had been participating in a dangerous TikTok trend known as the 'black-out challenge', which encourages participants to film themselves asphyxiating themselves until they lose consciousness.
Haileysus' twin brother tried to resuscitate him until neighbours and an ambulance arrived, a GoFundMe page set up to pay for his treatment explained, but it wasn't enough to save him.
Relatives said they were "completely unaware of the risks involved", and are now warning other families who may not be aware of the existence of the challenge to keep an eye out for it.
Father Haileyesus Zurihun told KCNC-TV that a few days before his son was found unconscious, he bragged to his brother about being able to hold his breath for a minute.
“Unbeknownst to his parents, Joshua had been playing this dangerous game completely unaware of the risks involved,” the GoFundMe page said.
The relatives are now warning other families who may not be aware of the existence of the challenge to keep and eye out for it.
"We are desperate to ensure that nothing like this happens to anyone else. We urge the community to spend awareness about Joshua and the real risks involved in not having knowledge of what kinds of activities children are involved in."
The black-out challenge is not a new social media trend. It has been around for years under many different names, including the 'pass-out challenge', 'the game of choking', 'speed dreaming' or 'the fainting game'.
However it has recently made a resurgence on TikTok, according to Haileysus' GoFundMe page.
TIME magazine reports that between 1995 and 2007, 82 children between the ages of six and 19 had died in the US as a result of the challenge.