The ‘Benadryl Challenge’ strikes again, this time killing 13-year-old Jacob Stevens after spending an entire week on a ventilator. His father, Justin Stevens, was given the option to keep his son on the ventilator, but was told that he would never open his eyes, breathe, smile, walk, or talk ever again.
Jacob died after attempting a Tik Tok trend called the ‘Benadryl Challenge,’ which dares teenagers and young adults to take 12-14 pills of Benadryl – an over-the-counter antihistamine drug used to relieve allergy and common cold symptoms. The challenge has claimed lives before, with this being the latest.
The FDA warned parents of the growing trend back in 2020. “Consumers, parents, and caregivers should store diphenhydramine and all other OTC and prescription medicines up and away and out of children’s reach and sight,” they wrote in a release – going as far as suggesting to lock up certain medications.
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The Stevens’ family is intent on using Jacob’s death to not only warn other parents, but enact real change on social media and in their community – all in hopes of ensuring something like this doesn’t happen again. His father recently spoke to ABC 6 about how lawmakers can help minimize the risk for teens.
His goal is to put an age restriction on buying certain medicine, such as Benadryl. “I already sent a message to Mr. Dewine. It’s my life goal now to make that happen. I’ll go at it until the day I die,” Justin says. He also feels like social media platforms can do more to prevent trends like this from going viral.
He wants to see social media platforms utilize age restrictions and wants them to require ID verification before an account can be created. “At TikTok, we strictly prohibit and remove content that promotes dangerous behavior with the safety of our community as a priority,” a TikTok representative said.
As for his grandmother, Dianna Stevens, she wants to do whatever possible to make sure no other family has to endure what her family has endured over the past few weeks. “I’m going to do anything I can to make sure another child doesn’t go through it,” she told ABC 6. The family is continuing to come together.
GoFundMe Created By Jacob Stevens’ Aunt
On April 13, Jacob Stevens’ aunt, Ashley Dean, created a GoFundMe account to help pay for funeral costs and provide some relief to his family as they navigate life without their son. “No mother should have to say goodbye to their baby,” she wrote in the description. They’ve raised more than $8,000 in six days.
His father is remembering him as someone who always knew how to put a smile on his face. “It didn’t matter how bad of a day I was having no one could make me smile, Jacob could make me smile,” Justin said in his interview with ABC 6 – struggling to maintain his composure while he talked about his son.
“It made me feel really good to see the posts his peers put on Facebook about how he helped them,” he continued – adding that parents need to ‘keep an eye at what they’re doing on that phone. Talk to them about the situation I want everyone to know about my son.’ He hopes parents listen to his dire warning.
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According to his obituary, Jacob Stevens was an 8th grade student at Greenfield McClain Middle School who ‘enjoyed listening to music, playing football, and hanging out with his friends.’ He was described as a ‘well-mannered, funny, loving kid’ and his funeral service is being held on Wednesday, April 19.
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