February 20th 2014
Alcohol abuse charities and politicians are amongst those who have condemned an online drinking game which is sweeping the world. Neknominate is also thought to be gaining popularity amongst youngsters, including children.
Thought to have originated in Australia, the highly irresponsible game involves participants filming themselves downing an alcohoic drink and then daring (or 'nominating') a friend to 'outdo' them by drinking more volume, different types of drinks or in foolhardy situations. The 'nominations' and videos are posted on social media sites … principally Facebook and YouTube.
The game has has some serious consequences, including the deaths of at least five men under 30 in the UK after drinking deadly cocktails. 20 year-old Bradley Eames died four days after filming himself drinking two pints of gin in a challenge. Isaac Richardson, also 20 died earlier this month having downed a cocktail of wine, whisky, vodka and lager after being nominated. Irish 19 year-old Jonny Byrne jumped into a river midway through a Neknominate challenge.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, is medical adviser for Drinkaware. She told CNN: "This is a lethal game. The point about alcohol is that it affects your ability to recognise that you're in danger, and it absolutely affects your ability to react to danger. So we have a double whammy. There appears to be no limit to the type of drinks that are consumed, and in what matter. Each nomination becomes more and more daring and outlandish. If the thrill wasn't there, your mates weren't seeing you, I expect it would very rapidly fizzle out."
Eric Appleby, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said: "The huge rise in deaths from accidental alcohol poisoning shows that we’re still not getting the message that drinking too much can be lethal. “We have to face up to our problem with alcohol and challenge the idea that being drunk is an essential part of having a good time." He continued: "We are facing historically high levels of health harms caused by alcohol misuse, with over a million alcohol-related hospital admissions each year; and we're one of the few European countries where liver disease is on the increase. We also need to see tougher action from Government including introducing minimum unit pricing."
Labour's Diana Johnson, MP for North Hull, thinks that education has a role to play. "The Facebook drinking game Neknomination has gone viral, and very sadly young people have died as a result. What role do schools have in building resilience in our young people to resist peer pressure?"
In a statement, Facebook said: "We do not tolerate content which is directly harmful, for example bullying, but behavior which some people may find offensive or controversial is not always necessarily against our rules. We encourage people to report things to us which they feel breaks our rules so we can review and take action on a case by case basis."