UK & World News
Neknomination Death: Family's Plea Over Craze
The family of an Irish teenager who died midway through an "exceptionally dangerous" drinking game known as "neknomination" have pleaded with others to end the online craze.
Jonny Byrne is believed to have jumped into a river after he was challenged - or "neknominated" - by a friend to upload a video of himself downing a pint.
His father Joe told The Journal the craze had cost his son his life, adding: "I hope this message is heeded. For us life is virtually over."
"If people have any decency and respect they will refrain from any more of this stupid neck nomination ****," his brother Patrick added on Facebook.
The 19-year-old from Carlow is thought to be the second victim of the craze in as many days, after 22-year-old Ross Cummins died in Dublin city centre.
He downed a whisky drink at a party before going to bed and was found unconscious the next morning, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
His girlfriend Niamh Murphy said she was "broken and empty" after his death, saying she had "lost not only the love of my life but my best friend".
"Ross was not only a one in a million, he was my one in a million," she wrote on her Facebook account.
Neknomination is thought to have originated in Australia but has spread quickly through social media and has gained momentum in countries including Ireland.
One web page contains dozens of videos of people downing their drinks after being challenged by their friends.
Colum McGuire, vice president of the National Union of Students (NUS), told Sky News: "This new online trend is exceptionally dangerous and could lead to young people being placed in vulnerable situations."
He added: "These new trends emphasise how social media and online spaces have now become so prevalent in influencing both decisions and how people interact with each other.
"Being nominated to participate in an activity, and then prove it online with potentially hundreds of people waiting for your response, is a lot of pressure to be put under and could lead to people making snap decisions without considering the consequences."
Students who are concerned about peer pressure, cyberbullying or harassment should contact their students' union for advice and guidance, Mr McGuire added.
Emma Rubach, head of editorial at TheSite.org, an advice website run by the young people's charity YouthNet, said that although drinking games are not a new phenomenon, the internet "provides another way for young people to share the experience of taking part in them".
"It's important that young people realise that just as with an offline game, it's their choice whether or not to participate and to know that with excessive drinking there can be consequences," she added.
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