A 9-year-old boy reportedly strangled himself to death attempting a social media challenge June 10, according to Newsweek.
LaTerius “TJ” Smith Jr. died from attempting a TikTok “strangulation challenge” that requires users to strangle themselves, Newsweek reported. Smith’s family rushed him to the hospital after they found the boy unresponsive in his bedroom with a belt tied around his neck.
Smith was laid to rest Saturday at the Memphis Memory Gardens cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee, according to his obituary. The 9-year-old’s great-great-aunt Barbara Williams said his death was caused by “stupid things” on the internet and urged parents to monitor their children’s social media. (RELATED: Authorities Are Investigating After People Spotted Someone Who Looks Like Missing Teen In TikTok Video)
“To see that baby laying in that casket, hasn’t even had the opportunity to grow up. You know, his life has ended because of some people putting stupid things on various sites,” Williams told WREG, according to Newsweek. “It wasn’t until later on that we found out there was some type of video one TikTok, letting kids know how to strangle yourself.”
“But you have got to get out of it, the challenge was to get out of it,” William said. But he’s nine years old, so how was he going to get out of it? I know you can’t watch them 24 hours, but that in which you can do, you just have to save a life.”
HEARTBREAKING: Family believes a social media challenge that involves strangulation led to the death of nine-year-old LaTerius Smith Jr. Tonight his relatives urge parents to monitor their children’s social media and what they do online. Their story at 5 @3onyourside pic.twitter.com/rX2JwbsOAp
— Shay Arthur (@ShayA_WREG3) June 18, 2021
Smith was a “fun-loving, full of energy bundle of joy who touched many lives,” his obituary said. He enjoyed going to church with his great grandmother where he sang in the choir, according to the obituary.
A 10-year-old girl from Palermo, Sicily died attempting TikTok’s “blackout challenge,” which similarly challenged users to choke themselves until they blacked out. In response to the incident, Italy banned TikTok for users under 13 years of age in February.