'Really scary': Teen dies after dangerous TikTok challenge

·News Editor
·4-min read

A teenage girl who died after taking part in a dangerous TikTok challenge has been identified.

Chloe Phillips, a 15-year-old from the US state of Oklahoma, was pronounced dead on August 21 after overdosing on an antihistamines as part of the “Benadryl challenge”, The Sun US reports.

The Benadryl challenge, which involves ingesting large amounts of the medication in order to hallucinate, has prompted warnings from health professionals in the US and Australia, who say the TikTok game can be fatal.

In July, Cook Children’s Medical Centre in Texas warned three teens had been hospitalised in one week after taking part in the online fad.

Chloe Phillips died after taking part in the Benadryl challenge on TikTok. Source: Supplied
Chloe Phillips died after taking part in the Benadryl challenge on TikTok. Source: Supplied

The warning from the medical centre said each of the teens who had been hospitalised said they got the idea from TikTok that claimed people “could get high and hallucinate”.

One of the teens who ended up at Cook Children’s was a 14-year-old named Rebekah.

Her mother Katie told the medical centre after taking part in the challenge, Rebekah had a resting heart rate of 199 and could not form sentences properly.

“It was scary,” she said.

Amber Jewison, a nurse practitioner at the medical centre, said none of the patients were trying to harm themselves and instead were curious to try the online fad.

‘Don’t say this can’t happen to you’

Chloe’s great aunt Janette Sissy Leasure also warned of the dangers of the challenge.

“This needs to stop taking our kids or putting them in hospital,” she wrote on Facebook, according to The Sun.

“I don’t want to see any families go through what we are going through right now. Don’t ever say this can’t happen to you.

“Kids are like, ‘the other person was okay, so I’ll be okay’.

“Try to always know what your kids are doing or taking.”

A bottle of Johnson & Johnson Benadryl brand allergy medication is arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, April 14, 2016. Johnson & Johnson is expected to report quarterly earnings on April 19. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
The fad can cause serious health concerns, including severe drowsiness, heart problems and seizures. Source: Getty

An obituary for the teen said she loved music, dancing, video games and “being a social butterfly with friends”.

“She was an extremely intelligent young woman and dreamed of one day going to college and becoming a lawyer,” it said.

“On that journey, she looked forward to her first kiss, getting her driver’s licence, and one day going to Paris.

“Chloe’s faith kept her steadfast; she always stood up for what she believed in, and she showed kindness and compassion in everything she did.”

Aussie kids warned of dangerous fad

A poisons expert is also warning young people and parents in Australia about the dangers of the TikTok Benadryl challenge.

“Misuse of any cough mixture outside of health care professional advice or label instructions is really dangerous,” Dr Rose Cairns from University of Sydney’s School of Pharmacy told Yahoo News Australia.

“Effects will vary depending on the product, but it can cause really severe drowsiness or even coma, severe agitation and unpleasant, frightening hallucinations, heart problems and seizures.

“I would definitely not recommend this challenge or any similar.”

A girl is holding her smartphone with the logo of the short video app TikTok in her hands.
A number of teens have been hospitalised for taking part in the Benadryl challenge. Source: Getty

Dr Cairns added it could be “really scary and really dangerous” and said it was not worth trying.

“When people do this they think it might be fun, but in reality the symptoms are very unpleasant and people wind up in hospital or worse.”

Senior specialist in poisons information at NSW Poisons Information Centre, Genevieve Adamo, told Yahoo News Australia they had received calls relating to internet challenges, as well as recreational abuse of cough mixtures.

“Diphenhydramine can cause significant drowsiness, delirium, seizures and cardiac arrhythmias,” she said.

“It is illegal for a member of the public to supply it to anyone else (except parents/carers administering to people in their care).”

TikTok told Yahoo News Australia it became aware of the Benadryl challenge in May and had worked to remove a small amount of content from the social media platform.

"The safety and wellbeing of our users is TikTok's top priority. As we make clear in our Community Guidelines, we do not allow content that encourages, promotes, or glorifies dangerous challenges that might lead to injury,” a spokesperson said.

“Though we have not seen this content trend on our platform, we actively remove content that violates our guidelines and block related hashtags to further discourage participation. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behaviour whether online or off."

Anybody concerned about an overdose should contact the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126.

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