A HEARTBROKEN mum has warned other parents about the dangers of social media after her "happy" son 14, "choked himself to death during a TikTok blackout challenge."
Teenager James Boyd-Gergely is believed to have taken part in TikTok’s Blackout Challenge, where users dare each other to choke themselves until they are unconscious.
The terrifying stunt took place last year, when James was found dead in the front veranda of his home in Laagan, in the Southern Tablelands, NSW during the Covid-19 lockdown.
His mum, Vanessa Boyd, believes her son's death was not intentional but a result of peer pressure combined with isolation during lockdown.
However, she states that this has not been confirmed yet and the boy's death is currently being examined by the Coroner.
She added that although James struggled with bullying he did not suffer from depression and was a happy teenager.
"There was nothing going on with self-harm in the lead up to that," she told news.com.au.
"The day he died, he did his chores and did his homework. He never would have done his homework if he was planning something like that.
"He seems to have been on TikTok that day and there was the choking challenge where a lot of teenage boys challenge each other to film themselves finding different ways to choke themselves to get some sort of euphoric feeling.
"He was out riding his motorbike that day. The fire was lit and he was playing music.
"It’s almost like it was a stunt gone wrong. There is no way in my mind that he would do that intentionally.
"He had a great group of friends at school, he was happy."
She added that a search of James's phone revealed he had been searching TikTok choking challenge videos on the day of his death.
"Confirming the TikTok side of things is going to be hard. It took over three months to get into his phone, and after three months, TikTok resets itself, so we can’t see exactly what he was looking at," she continued.
"But we can see the last searches and that was on there."
Now Ms Boyd wants to warn other parents to openly speak with their children about the dangers of social media and cyber-bullying.
"I’m a big supporter of Dolly’s Dream. I live rurally, I live that lifestyle and that was so shocking to me to read that story [about Dolly Everett’s suicide] when it came out," she said.
"It really affected me, but I never once thought to talk to my child about it; and the same thing happened at almost the same age to my child.
"There needs to be more discussion as there is a big gap there that isn’t filled."
She concluded by saying she wishes her son is remembered as a "gentle giant", who adored his younger sisters and his beloved Rabbitohs.
Earlier this year, a ten-year-old girl, from Palermo, Sicily accidentally choked herself to death after taking part in a TikTok challenge.
Meanwhile, in April, 12-year-old Joshua Haileyesus who had been left in life support after participating in the trend, passed away.
It comes as last month a 13-year-old teenager was left with horror burns on her arm and neck after attempting a TikTok challenge and setting herself on fire.
Take control of TikTok – change these settings now
Parents should do the following immediately…
- Head into Settings > Privacy and Safety and look for the Discoverability heading at the top.
- Under that you'll see a setting called Private Account. Toggle this on.
- TikTok recommends your page to lots of other users to improve video circulation.
- Switch the setting off and the account will no longer be recommended to other users.
Shut out weirdos:
- In Privacy and Safety > Safety, you can prevent other users from interacting with you.
- Most of the settings are on Everyone by default, but can be changed to Friends or Off.
- You can prevent interactions on comments, Duets, Reacts, users seeing which videos you've liked, and also messages.
Restricted Mode ON:
- Restricted Mode tries to limit age-inappropriate content from appearing for children.
- It's not perfect, and works through using computer-scanning systems – so some dodgy content will inevitably be missed.
- It's also possible to set a passcode to prevent your child from changing this setting later on.
- You'll find this in Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Screen Time Management
FOR PARENTS: How to talk about peer pressure
1) Create the right situation:
Make sure you both have time to talk, the atmosphere is relaxed, and remember that this is a conversation, not an interrogation.
Avoid solely talking at them. Listen to their concerns and their experiences.
3) Acknowledge their worries:
Dismissing their feelings will only shut down the conversation and make them reluctant to talk about what’s bothering them.
4) Help them practise ways of saying no:
Rehearsing with them ways to stand up to peer pressure and coming up with alternatives for them will build their confidence.
5) Keep the conversation going:
Let them know that they can always come to you if they have more worries, and take an interest in how they get on saying “no”.
Any adult who wants advice on how to talk to their child about peer pressure can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000
You’re Not Alone
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
- Movember, www.uk.movember.com
- Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, 03444 775 774 Monday-Friday 9.30am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-8pm
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