12-year-old Joshua Haileyesus
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A 12-year-old Colorado boy was reportedly left brain dead after joining the "Blackout Challenge" on TikTok. The trending social media "game" encourages participants to choke themselves until they lose consciousness.

Joshua Haileyesus has been pronounced brain dead after his twin brother found him unconscious on his bathroom floor on March 22. The family believes he tried to choke himself with a shoelace as part of the dare to see how long he could hold his breath. They set up a GoFundMe account for support with Joshua's medical expenses, and so far they have raised $149,467 out of $200,000 as of this writing.

Doctors asked the family to prepare to say goodbye to the 12-year-old boy, Fox 19 reported.

"He's a fighter. I can see him fighting. I'm praying for him every day," said Joshua's father, Haileyesus Zeryihun.

"It's just heartbreaking to see him laying on the bed," he said. "I was begging them on the floor, pleading to see if they can give me some time, not to give up on him. If I just give up on him, I feel like I'm just walking away from my son."

Hirut Yitayew, a family friend, told The Denver Channel that he can't explain the sadness and devastation they felt upon knowing the incident. "Nobody could ever imagine this would happen to a 12-year-old," the family friend added.

Joshua's parents said their son often used social media to interact with his friends and learn new hobbies such as cooking, playing guitar, and acting. While he exposed himself to social media and technology's positive aspects, his parents said these platforms have dangers, too.

News One reported these dangerous challenges trending on social media necessitate uncomfortable conversations between parents and their children.

Parents now have to worry not only about their children being exposed to dangerous situations beyond their control but also about these influences being available right inside their own homes, mainly as the pandemic forces us to isolate ourselves and stay indoors.

"This is something that kids need to be given to be taught — to be counseled. Because this is a serious a serious thing," Joshua's father told the outlet.

"It's not a joke at all. And you can treat it as if somebody is holding a gun. This is how dangerous this is," he added.

CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 27: The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok office on August 27, 2020 in Culver City, California. The Chinese-owned company is reportedly set to announce the sale of U.S. operations of its popular social media app in the coming weeks following threats of a shutdown by the Trump administration. Mario Tama/Getty Images

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