A 14-year-old boy who was found dead at home had been taking part in a dangerous viral TikTok challenge, his devastated mother has said. Lauryn Keating, 30, found her son Leon Brown unresponsive in his bedroom at their home in Dunbartonshire, Scotland, on August 25.
Now, Lauryn has issued a warning to other families after learning that Leon had been taking part in the horrifying challenge while on Facetime to a friend after seeing others doing it on TikTok. The shocking trend is also believed to have caused 12-year-old Archie Battersbee's fatal brain injury just weeks before Leon died.
The devastated mother, from Cumbernauld, told the Daily Record her son was the "happiest, funniest wee boy ever" and that he was her "best friend". She has now urged other parents to warn their children not to take part in the challenge if they come across it on social media.
She said she had heard of the challenge, which can cause low levels of oxygen in the brain, resulting in seizures or death, because of what happened to Archie, but that she never expected her own child would take part in it. It is understood that Leon and his friends had seen the challenge on TikTok.
Archie's heartbroken mum Hollie Dance has spoken publicly about how she believes her son had participated in the same challenge. He passed away on August 6 after his family lost a long-running legal battle to continue the treatment that was keeping him alive.
Speaking to the Daily Record, Lauryn said: "One of Leon's friends told me he had been doing the challenge on Facetime with them after seeing it on TikTok. My Leon thought he would be the one to try it first. Him and his friends probably thought it was a laugh and a joke.
"One of the kids who he was on Facetime with told me what he had done. She said they thought they would wake up. But Leon didn't come back around. It went horribly wrong.
"I had heard of this challenge, because of what happened to Archie Battersbee. But you just don't expect your own child to do it. Please warn them, these online challenges aren't worth their lives. They aren't worth 'likes' or whatever they are doing it for."
Speaking of popular youngster Leon, who was a pupil at Our Lady's High School in the town, Lauryn said: "He was the happiest, funniest wee boy ever.
"He was a bit of a class clown and he liked to make people laugh. Everything was always a joke and a carry on to Leon. He was just a wee cheeky boy. But he meant so much to me."
Lauryn said she went onto TikTok to search for the challenge and the amount of videos she found of young people also taking on the challenge was "ridiculous".
The tragedy of Leon's death comes just weeks after Archie Battersbee died on August 6. Archie was also found unconscious by his mother Hollie Dance at his home in Essex in April this year. The young boy had suffered a "catastrophic" brain injury and was placed on life support.
TikTok told the Record it has measures in place to prevent users from sharing videos on the trend and searching the specific term takes users to a safety centre on the app. Users are also able to report any videos that contain graphic content.
TikTok also deletes videos of the challenge from the platform.
A TikTok spokesperson said: "Our deepest sympathies go out to Leon Brown's family during this incredibly difficult time. The safety of our community is our priority and we take any claim about a dangerous challenge very seriously. Content of this nature is prohibited on our platform and would be removed if found."