WARNING: anxious content
A young Argentinean girl is reportedly the latest victim of a potentially deadly issue that has gone viral on TikTok and claimed the lives of people around the world.
The trend, known by names such as “blackout challenge” or “suffocation challenge,” encourages users to hold their breath for dangerous times, with some victims using items while alone.
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WATCH VIDEO ABOVE: Parents warned of dangerous ‘blackout challenge’.
The news that 12-year-old Milagros Soto “died while taking part in a TikTok contest” at noon on Friday, January 13, was posted on Facebook by the girl’s aunt Laura Luque.
Soto is believed to have provoked the asphyxiation, and the medical examiner at the Medical Institute of Law determined in the autopsy report that she died of mechanical asphyxia.
“I and my family have no consolation,” Luque said.
“I can’t even write, I just know… her friends challenged her.
“She’s wonderful, my little niece.”
According to local publication El Litoral, her death was caught on video during a live video call with her classmates.
The challenge is for the person to record themselves while holding their breath until they pass out.
It says the Santa Fe Public Ministry is investigating the death after relatives found the girl in her room in Captain Bermudez.
The investigation is being led by Public Prosecutor Juan Carlos Ledesma, who has requested the intervention of the Criminal Investigation Agency (AIC), reports El Litoral.
It says victim Pablo Ricchieri’s school in Capitan Bermudez released a statement calling Soto “an excellent student, companion, sweet, good and kind”.
“Rest in peace and shine for her with infinite light.”
Soto’s death joins a growing number of deaths reportedly caused by viral problems.
Bloomberg reported late last year that the power outage issue has been linked to the deaths of at least 15 children aged 12 and under since the start of 2021, with five more children aged 13 or 14 also dying in that period.
One 14-year-old boy from Queensland told 7NEWS last year that he entered the contest after seeing his friends doing it.
But the teenager vows never to do that again after one of his friends is hospitalized. “I was a little afraid for him, worried,” he said.
The mother of another Australian boy, who asked not to be named, said she was at home when she heard a knock in her son’s upstairs bedroom.
“I ran up the stairs and as I went upstairs I heard him moaning,” she told 7NEWS.
He was taken to the hospital with a concussion after hitting his head on a nearby table. His mother said that things could have ended much worse if his bedroom window had been nearby.
Queensland Ambulance spokeswoman Jen Kinsela said at the time that they had received an alarming number of calls in which students had to be treated for seizures and head injuries after participating in the trial.
“There were four calls in one hour in southeast Queensland and all of these children needed to be transported to the hospital,” she said.
What is the role of TikTok in the trend?
TikTok has made efforts to limit the search for challenge videos, although they continue to circulate on the app without additional restrictions and are shared on other platforms and by word of mouth.
When searching for potentially dangerous tasks, including a blackout task, on TikTok, instead of video results, an alert appears detailing four tips for users to rate tasks: “Stop. Think. Decide. Act”.
“Everyone, from doctors to news anchors, from entrepreneurs to athletes, can take part in the online challenge. But since adolescence is a stage of heightened exploration and experimentation, online challenges can be especially appealing,” reads a post in the online challenges section of the TikTok website.
“At the same time, adolescents do not always have the same skills in weighing risks and opportunities. This means they may need more information and guidance to decide which issues are safe and which are most likely not.”
A TikTok spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au: “We extend our deepest condolences to the family on their tragic loss. The safety of our community is our top priority, and we work tirelessly to ensure that our platform is safe for everyone.
“The hashtag associated with this challenge has been blocked on the platform for some time.
“This means that when someone searches for it, they are shown a message linking them to our Security Center.
“Our Community Guidelines clearly state what is and is not acceptable on our platform, and every day we remove and block content and accounts that violate these rules, including dangerous calls.”
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– S AP