Jacob Stevens, a 13-year-old boy from Ohio, had a happy life until he decided to become viral and took on a TikTok viral challenge that ended up taking his life. Stevens was browsing the Chinese social media platform when he came across a challenge that was gaining popularity. The challenge was to induce hallucinations by taking a dangerous amount of over-the-counter antihistamines. The challenge, known as the “Benadryl Challenge,” requires users to take 12-14 pills, which is six times the recommended dosage, in order to experience hallucinations. The challenge has been circulating on social media since 2020, and those who completed it posted videos on TikTok to gain followers and attention.
Stevens was at home with friends over the weekend when he took the pills and suffered an overdose. His friends took pictures of him while he was taking the pills, and it proved to be too much for his body to handle. He was rushed to the hospital and connected to a respirator, but despite the best efforts of doctors, he died six days later.
Stevens’ father, Justin, spoke to media outlets about his son’s tragic death, saying that there was no brain activity detected when he was taken to the hospital. He expressed his anger and devastation about what had happened, saying, “They said we could keep him on the breathing, and he could lay there, but he’s never going to open his eyes, never going to breathe, smile, walk, or talk.”
Stevens’ grandmother, Dianna Stevens, tearfully pleaded with the media to do everything possible to ensure that another child doesn’t go through the same tragedy. The family remembered Jacob as a polite, fun-loving, and affectionate child. “No matter how bad of a day I was having, nobody could make me smile like Jacob could,” Justin said through sobs. He also urged parents to monitor their children’s activities on social media, saying, “Watch what they’re doing on that phone.”
The tragic death of Jacob Stevens is a painful reminder of the dangers that viral challenges on social media can pose, especially to young and impressionable minds. It is important for parents and guardians to have conversations with their children about the potential dangers of participating in viral challenges and to monitor their social media use closely.