Boy, 13, dead after TikTok ‘Benadryl Challenge,’ grieving dad warns other parents

An Ohio teen tragically perished after overdosing on over-the-counter medication while attempting a viral TikTok stunt.

The 13-year-old victim, Jacob Stevens, had been partaking in the “Benadryl Challenge,” a dangerous pursuit in which participants take 12 to 14 of the antihistamines — six times the recommended dose — in order to induce hallucinations.

The potentially deadly stunt started blowing up in 2020 as teens uploaded their attempts on TikTok in order to gain social media clout.

Jacob’s father, Justin, told ABC 6 that his son was at home last weekend with friends when he overdosed.

Footage taken by his pals showed the Columbus resident downing the pills, after which his body reportedly started to seize up.

“It was too much for his body,” the teen’s devastated father said.

Jacob was subsequently rushed to the hospital and put on a ventilator.

Despite medics’ best efforts, the boy perished six days later on what his father described as the “worst day of his life.”

Justin described hearing the devastating news that his son wouldn’t wake up.

“No brain scan, there was nothing there,” the bereaved dad said. “They said we could keep him on the vent, that he could lay there — but he will never open his eyes, he’ll never breathe, smile, walk or talk.”

Jacob Stevens on the ventilator.
Jacob Stevens, 13, spent six days on the ventilator before dying.

The boy’s grandmother, Dianna Stevens, fought through tears to tell their local TV news outlet: “I’m going to do anything I can to make sure another child doesn’t go through it.”

Meanwhile, Jacob is remembered by his family as a well-mannered, funny, loving kid.

“It didn’t matter how bad of a day I was having, no one could make me smile, Jacob could make me smile,” an emotional Justin recalled.

In light of his son’s tragic death, the devastated Ohioan is also warning parents about the dangers of teens using social media unsupervised.

“Keep an eye at what they’re doing on that phone,” he said. “Talk to them about the situation. I want everyone to know about my son.”

Jacob Stevens.
Jacob Stevens in happier times. “Keep an eye at what they’re doing on that phone,” his dad warns other parents. “Talk to them about the situation. I want everyone to know about my son.”

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Johnson & Johnson issues warning after teen’s ‘Benadryl challenge’ death

In addition, Justin is imploring lawmakers to put age restrictions on over-the-counter pharmaceuticals like Benadryl — a campaign he describes as his “life goal.”

He wants TikTok to impose similar safeguards, including requiring users to provide an ID before creating an account.

Unfortunately, Jacob isn’t the first victim of the Benadryl Challenge.

In August 2020, a 15-year-old girl fatally overdosed on the allergy drug during another ill-fated attempt at the stunt.

Following the spate of deaths, manufacturer Johnson & Johnson issued a public advisory regarding the challenge, warning: “The Benadryl TikTok trend is extremely concerning, dangerous and should be stopped immediately.”

The Food and Drug administration also put out a public service announcement.

“Taking higher than recommended doses of the common over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma or even death,” the agency wrote.

“We are aware of news reports of teenagers ending up in emergency rooms or dying after participating in the ‘Benadryl Challenge’ encouraged in videos posted on the social media application TikTok.”

They added, “Health care professionals should be aware that the ‘Benadryl Challenge’ is occurring among teens and alert their caregivers about it.”

land 15 grade school students in hospital

The juggernaut viral video platform announced major changes for under-18 users in March, with a one-hour daily screen time limit set to be introduced in the coming weeks in an effort to curb endless scrolling that some argue is turning youths into “boring beasts.”

The goal is to rein in the way teens interact with the increasingly popular — and controversial — app.

The new restrictions came two days after the White House ordered government agencies to rid their devices of the Chinese-owned TikTok app within 30 days in an effort to prevent China’s communist government from spying on US citizens.

“We believe digital experiences should bring joy and play a positive role in how people express themselves, discover ideas, and connect,” said Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s head of trust and safety, in a statement. “We’re improving our screen time tool with more custom options, introducing new default settings for teen accounts, and expanding Family Pairing with more parental controls.”

The new 60-minute time limit will be automatically applied to every user under 18 years of age, who will be asked to enter a passcode to continue scrolling after an hour.

For users under 13, the limit will also be set to 60 minutes — but a parent or guardian will need to set or enter an existing passcode to enable 30 minutes of additional watch time.

Per: NYP

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