AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A grieving Massachusetts family is trying to bring awareness to the dangers of a social media challenge that caused the death of their eighth-grader this week.
Amherst Regional Middle School student Nate Squires was found unresponsive at home Monday after attempting the “blackout challenge,” his family said on a GoFundMe page.
The social media challenge, which has gained popularity on TikTok, encourages children to choke themselves until they lose consciousness.
Samantha Thomas, a sister-in-law, said the “entire family feels like the rug has been ripped out from under us.”
“All over the world families are losing children to this. We ask that if you cannot donate, please reach out to a child in your life and talk to them about the Blackout Challenge,” said Thomas, who organized the GoFundMe.
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. In April, a 12-year-old Colorado boy died after participating in the challenge.
The dangerous challenge, which has gained popularity on TikTok, also goes by the names “pass-out challenge,” “the game of choking,” or “speed dreaming.”
The GoFundMe, which was created a day ago, has raised over $24,000. Their goal is $25,000 to help “take away any financial burdens” they may face in upcoming months as they deal with the tragedy.
“Both Rachel and Dave [Nate’s parents] want the world to know of the circumstances that surround Nate’s death to ensure that this does not happen to another family,” Thomas said.