Last week, Georgia mother Cantenecia Stokes discovered her 11-year-old son hanging from a rope in his bedroom closet. The child had apparently been attempting to imitate a stunt he saw online, in which YouTuber’s feign hanging themselves as a “prank.” Her son died four days later.
Stokes told WSB-TV that her other children said her son had gotten the idea online. (The boy’s three siblings watched as he attempted the “prank” while their mother made breakfast, WSB-TV also reports.) While it’s not clear if a specific video motivated the boy, a quick YouTube search turns up several examples of graphic and disturbing hanging “prank videos.” As an example: “Suicide by Hanging Prank on Mom! (April Fools Prank)” has been viewed nearly a quarter of a million times. (Not to mention, YouTube’s history of inspiring kids to attempt potentially dangerous stunts, like last winter’s “Duct Tape Challenge,” which left a Washington teen with a brain aneurysm and blind in one eye.)
When the boy’s siblings realized he wasn’t breathing, they quickly informed Stokes, but it was already too late. “He panicked and he was trying to take himself out and he didn’t know if you pull you’re only worsening, it’s tightening,” Stokes said.