The death of a teenage boy who overdosed on an allergy drug as part of an online game has exposed the dangers of social media challenges.
Thirteen-year-old Jacob Stevens of Columbus, Ohio, took more than a dozen Benadryl pills while his friends filmed to see what would happen.
His body then began to seize within minutes. Within hours, his organs began to shut down and his brain stopped responding. Stevens died on a ventilator after six days.
Stevens is the third known victim of the “Benadryl Challenge,” a deadly viral TikTok game that supposedly induces hallucinations. In 2020, a 15-year-old Oklahoma girl also died of a pill overdose.
Social media challenges started as fun initiatives to raise awareness about chronic conditions, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge, but have now turned into sinister and dangerous trends.
The 13-year-old from Ohio was remembered as a fun-loving and caring boy who could brighten anyone’s day
13-year-old Jacob Stevens took 12 to 14 Benadryl pills, causing him to overdose
One of the most dangerous, the Blackout Challenge, involves teens deliberately restricting their breathing by choking themselves with a belt, rope, or similar. It resulted in more than 80 deaths when it first emerged and caused another 15 last year.
And the Skull Breaker challenge, where two contestants purposely try to drop a third person and hit his head on the ground, has resulted in several deaths and led to criminal charges against the contestants.
Others that have resulted in deaths or injuries include drinking hand sanitizer to “get drunk” and taking sleeping pills and seeing who can stay awake the longest.
Many young people take part in these challenges, though clearly unsafe, to fit in.
“When people interact with the influencers and participate in these challenges, it gives them a sense of belonging and or even familiarity, and young people in particular are looking for acceptance. That includes social media adoption,” Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, medical toxicologist for the National Capital Poison Center, told DailyMail.com.
Arriani Arroyo, 9, died from participating in the Blackout Challenge, which recently resurfaced on TikTok
Also called the “choking game” or the “pass-out challenge,” this social media trend involves the participant deliberately restricting their breathing with a belt, rope, or similar.
The challenge predates TikTok and dates back to 2008, when 82 deaths were confirmed, according to the paper CDC.
However, it has seen a recent resurgence.
One at the end of 2022 Bloomberg Business Week report linked at least 15 deaths in children under 12 to the challenge in the past 18 months. Five more children between the ages of 13 and 14 also died.
Victims were only eight years old.
Two more deaths have been confirmed in 2023: 12-year-old Tristan Casson of Ohio and 12-year-old Milagros Soto of Argentina.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a list of signs that may indicate someone is attempting the blackout challenge, including bloodshot eyes, spots on the neck, severe headaches, and feeling disoriented after spending time alone.
Ahjanae Harper, a 14-year-old victim of the Kia Challenge, recently gave birth to a baby girl before she lost her life
The four teens were killed after a car they allegedly stole using the ‘Kia Boyz’ TikTok hack that allows kids to easily hotwire a car crashed in Buffalo
A TikTok trend that emerged in 2021 led to a spike in stolen car models from Kia and Hyundai in the United States.
Dubbed the ‘Kia Challenge’, users are shown how to steal certain Kia and Hyundai models by removing a plastic cover under the steering column and using a USB cable.
This has led to injuries and deaths of children, especially those not old enough to drive, causing them to lose control of the vehicles.
WIVB in Buffalo, New York, reported that four local teens, ages 14-19, were killed in October after crashing into a vehicle they stole as part of the challenge. Two other occupants, including the 16-year-old driver, survived.
Among the victims was a 14-year-old Ahjanae Harper, who had recently given birth to a baby girl before the accident.
Skull Breaker Challenge
This stunt challenge, which first emerged in 2020, has led to an increase in serious injuries and deaths in the US and UK.
While the videos seem harmless at first, they take a dangerous turn.
The challenge involves three people standing next to each other. They all say they are going to jump in the air, but the two at the end don’t jump. Instead, they kick the middle person’s legs out from under them, causing that person to fall.
The name ‘skull breaker’ is a reference to the victims’ heads hitting the ground as they fall.
The challenge began in Spain when two students filmed themselves performing the prank on an unsuspecting third contestant.
Kids fall to the floor after kicking during the ‘skull breaker challenge’
Two students in New Jersey faced criminal charges in 2020 for seriously injuring a classmate with the challenge, which included third-degree aggravated assault and third-degree endangerment of an injured victim, the Washington Post reported.
The challenge has been linked to two deaths in Brazil in 2021.
In a newsroom warningTikTok said, “We don’t allow content that encourages or replicates dangerous challenges that could lead to injury.
In fact, it’s a violation of our Community Guidelines and we will continue to remove this type of content from our platform.
In the hand sanitizer challenge, users drink the cleaning supply in an attempt to get drunk
“Nobody wants their friends or family to get hurt while filming a video or trying a stunt.
“It’s not funny — and since we’re removing that kind of content, your TikTok is definitely not going to get famous.”
Hand sanitizer challenge
The search query ‘drinking hand sanitizer challenge’ has more than 64 million views on TikTok. It was also linked to four deaths and six seizures in 2020, the CDC reported.
The CDC reported four deaths and six seizures in 2020.
The agency reported that 15 adults in Arizona and New Mexico were hospitalized between May and June 2020 for methanol poisoning after consuming alcohol-based sanitizers.
During that time, sixty-two calls were made to poison control centers for cases of methanol poisoning from alcohol-based sanitizers.
Victims were between the ages of 21 and 65.
The “Benadryl Challenge” involves taking large amounts of the over-the-counter allergy medication to see how long you can stay awake, as well as induce hallucinations.
The challenge has led to overdose deaths, including that of 13-year-old Jacob Stevens this month.
a case study conducted on a 14-year-old victim stated that the victim has no evidence of any medical or psychiatric conditions that would have led to suicidal thoughts.
“The manner of death was an accident,” the report said.
Following reports of hospitalizations and deaths in 2020, the Food and Drug Administration warned against taking higher-than-recommended doses of over-the-counter allergy medications, such as Benadryl.
“Taking higher-than-recommended doses of the common over-the-counter (OTC) allergy drug diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma or even death,” the agency said.
benadryla Johnson & Johnson drug, issued a statement calling the trend “dangerous” and calling for it to be “stopped immediately.”