Ohio boy, 13, dies attempting TikTok challenge

Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 11:07 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/CNN) - A family from Columbus is dealing with the horrific tragedy of losing their 13-year-old son, who overdosed on over-the-counter medicine.

The family says their Jacob Stevens was trying to copy a TikTok challenge.

“I am going to do everything I can to try to make sure another child doesn’t go through it,” said Dianna Stevens, Jacob’s grandmother.

Jacob died after six days on a ventilator.

“The worst day of my life,” recalled Justin Stevens, Jacob’s father.

Jacob overdosed on Benadryl after attempting a TikTok challenge. the family says the challenge was to take 12-14 pills and that it would create a hallucination. Jacob took more than that.

“They kind of just all come at one time, and it was too much for his body,” Justin said.

Justin explains the teen was at home with friends when he overdosed. He says Jacob’s friends filmed him attempting the social media challenge when suddenly his body started seizing.

He says it felt like time stopped when doctors told him his son would never wake up.

“No brain scan. There was nothing there,” Dianna said. “He said we could keep him on the vent... we could, you know, he could lay there like that but he will never open his eyes, he will never breathe on his own, do anything like that.”

His parents described Jacob as a well-mannered, fun-loving kid who played football for Greenfield Schools.

“It didn’t matter how bad of a day I was having and nobody else could make me smile, it was Jacob who made me smile,” Justin said.

Justin says what community members said about his son brought him to tears.

“It made me feel really good to see some of the posts that, you know, his peers had put on Facebook about how he helped them,” he said.

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Now, Jacob’s family has a warning for other parents.

“Keep an eye on what your kids are doing with that phone,” Justin said. “Talk to ‘em about, you know, the situation. I want everybody to know about my son’s situation.”

They’re also trying to get lawmakers to put an age restriction on buying medicine like Benadryl. Dianna says she’s already sent a message to Gov. Mike DeWine.

Justin says he also wants social media platforms like TikTok to have age restrictions.

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