COLUMBUS, OH – A 13-year-old boy in Ohio is dead after taking the TikTok “Benadryl Challenge,” a dangerous stunt that has participants taking 12 to 14 of the over-the-counter allergy pills – which is six times the recommended dose – in order to purportedly induce hallucinations.
The Benadryl Challenge first became popular on the social media platform in 2020, which has featured numerous videos of teens taking handfuls of the pills; this is the latest in the series of hazardous stunts that are promoted amongst the app’s users.
Jacob Stevens overdosed on the antihistamines last weekend, according to his father Justin; footage shot by his friends depicted the 13-year-old Columbus resident swallowing the pills and soon afterwards suffering a seizure.
“It was too much for his body,” Justin Stevens said of his son’s unfortunate fate.
Jacob was immediately rushed to a local area hospital where he was put on a ventilator; however, after six days he passed away, with his father calling it the worst day of his life.
“No brain scan, there was nothing there,” Justin 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.”
Justin described his son as a funny, loving, and well-mannered boy.
“It didn’t matter how bad of a day I was having, no one could make me smile, Jacob could make me smile,” he recalled, and said that he is using the tragedy that befell his son as a warning to other parents about the dangers that social media can pose to teenagers.
“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 is not the first victim of the Benadryl Challenge, which also claimed the life of a 15-year-old girl in August 2020.
In response to repeated complaints over the threats that their platform potentially poses to young users, TikTok announced in March that they would be instituting a daily one-hour time limit on the app for users under the age of 18. The limit is set to go into effect later in April.