DENVER (KDVR) — A Colorado family is devastated after their son was found in critical condition after participating in the “blackout challenge.”
Twelve-year-old Joshua Haileyesus, of Aurora, was found struggling to breathe on the bathroom floor. His twin brother attempted to resuscitate him before first responders arrived at the home.
On Monday, a crowd gathered in front of Children’s Hospital Colorado to pray for Joshua, who is now on life support.
“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,” said Joshua’s father, Haileyesus Zeryihun. “This is not a game, this is deadly.”
The “blackout challenge” has been around for years, daring participants to endure choking to the point of passing out in order to gain a sense of euphoria. Earlier this year, a 10-year-old girl from Italy died after participating in the challenge, strangling herself with a belt.
The dangerous challenge is gaining popularity on TikTok. The challenge also goes by the names, “passout challenge,” “the game of choking,” or “speed dreaming.”
Friends of Joshua’s family have created a GoFundMe page to help with medical bills.