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The TikTok Blackout Challenge and Death

Patty has advanced degrees in preventive medicine and health psychology, with 35 years of work in allergy and other autoimmune treatment.

A blackout can become permanent.

A blackout can become permanent.

The "blackout challenge" swept TikTok in 2021, and experts have been warning users not to try it since the early 2000s.

— Sarah Felbin, e.l.; 8/5/2022

Death by Internet

TikTok's Blackout Challenge is also known as the pass-out challenge, the choking game, and self-bondage. The challenge asks internet users to hold their breath until they lose consciousness from a lack of oxygen. It is a dangerous activity.

While the internet and social media offer a wealth of entertainment and solid information, they also offer a dark side. This underworld includes not only scams, identification theft, and exploitation, but also disinformation, violence, and suggestions and challenges that can become deadly. Two of the most recognizable victims of the Blackout Challenge are an adult who made his own choices, David Carridine; and a 12-year-old child who was encouraged in high-risk behaviors, Archie Battersbee.

Mr. Carridine, of Kung Fu television fame, participated in a blackout activity in 2009 that predated TikTok. In fact, I first learned of this type of behavior 25 years prior to this writing, in medical and public health classes and health psychology work.

Archie became comatose on April 7, 2022 and died on August 6, 2022. He had been encouraged in sports by his mother (no problem there) but also in what looks to me to be extreme body building and later, MMA training. The latter two activities must be supervised closely in children, and I believe they were not so monitored for Archie.

Mr. Carridine, of Kung Fu television fame, participated in a blackout activity in 2009 that predated TikTok. In fact, I first learned of this type of behavior 25 years prior to this writing, in medical and public health classes and health psychology work.

Archie became comatose on April 7, 2022 and died on August 6, 2022. He had been encouraged in sports by his mother (no problem there) but also in what looks to me to be extreme body building and later, MMA training. The latter two activities must be supervised closely in children, and I believe they were not so monitored for Archie.

Warnings and Questions

As a martial arts grandmaster, I have seen a number of children and youth severely injured in poorly run fighting competitions, warned parents about this, and have enforced strict monitoring in related training and competitions that I have supervised.

Another question involves the nature of the CPR administered to the 12-year-old boy by his mother when she found him unconscious with a cord of some sort around his neck. No information about this has been offered by any news outlet so far.

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Was the child only unconscious or was he not breathing and exhibiting no heartbeat as well? Performing CPR on a breathing patient with a heartbeat can be deadly, but some individuals jump straight into doing CPR without checking breath and pulse, sometimes even using outdated procedures. Regardless, Archie never regained consciousness to my knowledge.

Children and youth need supervision and proper training n all martial arts in which they participate.

Children and youth need supervision and proper training n all martial arts in which they participate.

Monitoring and Possible Exhibitionism

International publications displayed photos of Archie Battersbee's mother, Ms. Dance, grinning and snapping photos of a shirtless Archie in pose-down muscle positions as he also laughed. The pictures smacked of poorly supervised “Toddlers and Tiaras” television types of activities that, when taken to extremes, can become child abuse. Archie was becoming interested in boxing and MMA fighting, and I have no information on the extent of his involvement, but I do know that these activities are high-risk for serious injuries. They also carry the possibility of illegal steroid use.

I suspect that Ms. Dance may have thought to amass notoriety and other secondary gains in Archie's future physical accomplishments and having lost these opportunities at his death, pursued them in the press during legal actions involving the UK's NHS and courts. She had the support of a Christian organization in this, especially in applying for hospice care. However, all treatments and hospice care were finally denied to Archie by UK and international courts, including a division of the United Nations.

The loss of a child devastates parents and family, especially unnecessary loss.

The loss of a child devastates parents and family, especially unnecessary loss.

Death and Pride

At his death, his mother said that she was proud of Archie. Pride in one's son can be expected. However, pride in his participation in a dangerous and unsupervised event that led to his death would be incorrigible; yet the loss of a child is devastating.

It is difficult for children and many youths to make the cause-and-effect connection between actions and consequences, as shown by decades of related research and brain studies. Archie Battersbee, having been encouraged in high-risk activities and having been only 12 years old, should not have been left alone with the internet. In his case, it killed him.

I would expect the boy's mother and her partner, Mr. Battersbee, to campaign against the Blackout Challenge and TikTok in the same way that parents of youth who have died in fraternal hazing and dangerous TikTok challenges to campaign for consequences for their children's deaths. Perhaps Archie's parents will do so.

the-tiktok-blackout-challenge-and-death

Recommendations for Parents, Caregivers and Teachers

  • Teach children and youth how to learn, how to think logically, and how to make good decisions.
  • Teach children to understand cause and effect in daily life.
  • Teach children to ask adults to help them decide whether an internet activity is safe and legal. Monitor cnhildren's use of TikTok and other social media.
  • Ensure that children are well monitored in sports and instructed only by certified instructors that are trained also in CPR and First Aid. For example, martial arts are not regulated in the U.S.A.-- Anyone here can open a martial arts school.

Sources

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Patty Inglish MS

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