A 10-year-old girl has reportedly died after attempting the notorious "blackout challenge" on TikTok.
This troubling online trend – which is not affiliated with the video-sharing app – encourages users to strangle or otherwise asphyxiate themselves until they lose consciousness.
The Italian girl, named Antonella, had placed a belt around her neck to prevent herself from breathing so she could complete the challenge on Wednesday.
She had been filming her attempts with her mobile phone, and it remains unknown whether she was live-streaming herself to online viewers at the same time.
Her five-year-old sister discovered her unconscious, and her parents rushed the girl to a hospital in Palermo.
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Medics tried desperately to save Antonella, who had gone into cardiac arrest, but it was too late and she was declared brain dead.
Her grieving parents told local media that another of Antonella's sisters, aged nine, had explained to them that she was "playing the game of asphyxiation".
"My daughter, my little Antonella, who dies because of an extreme game on TikTok, how can I accept it," dad Angelo Sicomero told La Repubblica.
He has given permission for his daughter's organs to be donated so that "other children can live thanks to her".
The Public Prosecutor's Office in Palermo has opened an investigation into Antonella's death to determine whether she had been incited into taking her own life.
Detectives seized her mobile phone in the hopes it will provide answers about whether she was live-streaming her attempt and whether or not another person had encouraged her to strangle herself.
The blackout challenge, also known as "the fainting game" or "pass out challenge", has been circulating on various social media platforms including TikTok in the last year.
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There are fears that impressionable young users could put themselves in danger by trying to complete the trending challenge.
Reports of children being pressured to self-harm or kill themselves by other online challenges, such as the notorious "Blue Whale challenge", have added to parents' anxiety.
However, the true extent of such online dangers has been called into question, with only limited anecdotal evidence of social media users encountering this particular kind of harmful content.
TikTok users who see others promoting the blackout challenge is encouraged to report it and to block any account that tells them to participate in the dangerous trend.
The Daily Star has contacted TikTok for comment.
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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