Mom Shares Urgent Warning About Viral 'Fainting Challenge' After Finding Her Boy Dead

boy dies from fainting game
Fox 13 Salt Lake City

Whether they're referred to as Internet games or challenges, there's no denying that kids have been seriously drawn to them recently. Sometimes it's for Internet fame while other times children are just curious or want the chance to feel included. Either way, kids in all age groups have been putting themselves in serious danger trying to successfully take part in them and it needs to stop. After one mom found her 12-year-old son dead while playing the "fainting challenge," she's warning other parents about the deadly game that has already taken multiple kids' lives. 

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On Friday, 12-year-old Tua Muai was playing the "fainting game" -- also known as the "choking game" -- with his friends in his Utah home. In order to partake, they were purposely cutting off the oxygen to their brains in order to get a non-drug-related high or rush. 

But shortly after, the boy's mom, Celestia Muai, found him unconscious and immediately called 911. The sixth grader was transported to a local hospital and died later that evening. "He was just playing a game and he didn't think things through," Muai told Fox 13. 

boy died after playing fainting game
Fox 13 Salt Lake City

Understandably, the family is still devastated and Muai hopes that no other parents have to go through losing a child in such a preventable way. "I spent Mother's Day planning my son's funeral, writing his obituary, instead of having breakfast or flowers or 'I love you, Mom,'" she said. "Try to imagine what it would be like and multiply that by infinity and that's kind of what it's like … there's no words."

Unfortunately, Tua is one of many young people who have lost their lives by intentionally choking themselves as part of a game. In a 2008 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the "fainting game" killed 82 kids between the ages of 6 and 19 between 1995 and 2007. Time reports that before the widespread use of the Internet, the rules of the game were spread through word of mouth. Now, quick searches on sites like YouTube pull up multiple "how to" results. Although it's unclear how Tua asphyxiated himself, it's common in these cases for kids to use things like rope, belts, and shoelaces to get that "momentary high." 

It's unclear the total number of deaths from the "choking game" since that 2008 report, but what is clear from the continued individual reports of children lost over the last decade is that this problem is still a serious danger.

boy died playing choking game
Fox 13 Salt Lake City

In the wake of his tragic death, Tua left behind seven siblings and a large community of friends and family who loved him dearly. It's because of this that Maui wants her son's passing to serve as a warning to all the other parents out there. "I would hate for any other mother to go through what I'm going through and any other children to go through [this]," she said. "There's nothing that can take the pain away but if it can save one child, one parent, one family ... then it will make more sense.”

Tua's family also created a YouCaring campaign to help cover the sudden funeral and memorial expenses. 

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