TikTok is a one-stop shop for all kinds of challenges, trends, and viral hacks. However, every once in a while, a challenge emerges that not only throws caution to the wind but actively endangers a person's life.
The social media platform and its users' penchant for virality have them pulling stunts in the name of "challenges" that can prove fatal. Users, primarily children and teenagers, have suffered consequences ranging from hospitalization to death.
Here are the 10 deadliest TikTok challenges
1) Blackout challenge
This challenge, also popularly known as the "choking game" or "fainting game," existed long before TikTok, claiming 82 lives between 1995 and 2007 in the US alone, per Time.
The challenge directs users to cut off their air supply by choking themselves until they pass out. A 10-year-old girl in Italy accidentally asphyxiated herself by tying a belt around her neck and was pronounced brain-dead by doctors.
2) Benadryl challenge
A 15-year-old girl from Oklahoma died in 2020 after overdosing on benadryl pills to get high and hallucinate for the Benadryl Challenge. Three teenagers in Texas were also hospitalized for the same.
These near-death accidents prompted the FDA to issue the following PSA:
“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.”
3) Skull breaker challenge
The name of the challenge is already a warning sign about its potential fatality. It involves a group of people, usually three, jumping next to each other; two of them kick out the third's feet from under them, causing them to fall backwards on their head.
The viral trend has reportedly caused injuries across New Jersey, Miami, Arizona, and Mexico, with a few high schoolers even being charged with cyberbullying in Florida. Health experts have condemned this challenge for its propensity to cause "serious and life-threatening injuries" like skull-fracture, paralysis or even death.
4) Fire challenge
The Fire Challenge has a very simple premise — one just needs to cover their body in an inflammable substance and then light it on fire.
Despite its obvious dangers, this challenge found several takers among unassuming 12 and 13-year-olds. This resulted in a number of children being hospitalized for first and second-degree burns.
5) Cha Cha Slide challenge
DJ Casper's cult favorite song Cha Cha Slide sparked a trend where teen drivers swerved their cars in tandem with the song's lyrics "slide to the left, slide to the right" and "criss-cross."
The dangerous wheel jerking and swerving of the car has caused several near-miss accidents, with one user captioning their video, "The car almost flipped."
6) Penny challenge
Jamming a penny in the small gap between a partially plugged-in phone charger and an electric socket just screams fire hazard. But TikTok users do it just for the fun of creating a shower of sparks.
The viral penny challenge forced a Massachusetts Fire Marshall to issue an advisory about the possibility of electrical system damage or even fires, which was the case in a Plymouth school.
7) Milk crate challenge
Users trying to climb a stack of milk crates arranged like stairs soon discovered the flimsiness of said crates, leaving them tumbling from heights and sustaining numerous injuries. Even TikTok acknowledged the challenge's perils, banning it from its platform.
An orthopedic surgeon, Dr Shawn Anthony said on Today:
“The Milk Crate Challenge is very dangerous, and we are seeing many orthopedic injuries as a result of the falls. Injuries can include broken wrists, shoulder dislocations, ACL and meniscus tears, as well as life-threatening conditions like spinal cord injuries.”
8) Full-face wax challenge
This viral beauty fad was the brainchild of Dutch barber Renaz Ismael where he caked his customers' faces entirely with gloopy green wax, complete with wax-dipped Q-tips in their nostrils.
While skin experts deemed the trend "traumatic for the skin," a beautician pointed out other hazards to BBC:
"Our first concern is that it would cause suffocation. There’s no control element to smothering the face with wax. And wax hardens. So it could harden in the airways and have to be surgically removed.”
9) Back cracking challenge
This challenge features two individuals cracking their backs against each other. While cracking one's back can feel therapeutic, it can quickly turn dangerous if it is performed incorrectly.
A doctor on Buzzfeed explained the dangers of this challenge:
“This ‘adjustment’ can be very detrimental to the spine because it’s not being performed correctly. Doing exercises like this at home can be very dangerous as it can twist or pull someone’s spine out of place.”
10) Salt challenge
Guzzling a whole mouthful of salt at once doesn't seem like the smartest idea, but it's probably the bizarreness of the challenge that made it viral on the platform.
However, the challenge poses health risks such as dehydration, confusion, and nausea due to the sudden spike in sodium levels. Extreme cases of higher levels of sodium consumption can lead to people suffering from seizures or entering a comatose state.