Health chiefs are urging Suffolk people to avoid getting caught out by online drinking games such as the infamous ‘NekNominate’, which is receiving widespread attention in the national media.
Following the deaths of two men this week – one in Cardiff, the other in South London - health professionals are keen that people know the risks, with the key message “don’t get out of your depth.”
In NekNominate, participants are invited to drink increasing quantities of alcohol, in often bizarre places, before posting a video of the act on Facebook and then nominating someone else to continue the game.
Tessa Lindfield, Suffolk County Council’s director of public health, said: “Quite apart from the obvious health risks, the problem with this type of thing is that it invites people to go ‘one better’ than others.
“The temptation therefore is to escalate the extremity of the behaviour until it gets out of hand, which is unfortunately what we are seeing in a number of cases around the UK.
“Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol – or mixing alcohol with other toxic substances – can lead to tragedy.
“Our advice is to be smart to the dangers and decline any invitations to join in. This is not a game that anyone can win.”
Health officials are advising people to call 999 if they are aware of anyone who has consumed an excessive quantity of alcohol or other substances, to follow instructions from the emergency services and wait for an ambulance.
Chief Superintendent Jon Brighton, Suffolk Constabulary’s County Policing Commander, said: “Neknominate is a worrying trend.
“We would always advise people to stay in control of their drinking and remember that you are more vulnerable when you drink alcohol.
“We would also advise people to stay away from these types of games, as taking part in any ‘dare’, especially when there is alcohol involved, risks accident and serious injury.
“Although there have so far been no reported incidents within Suffolk of people coming to harm, we are concerned that, as this escalates on social media, people may feel pressurised by friends to take on the dare, making themselves vulnerable and exposed to becoming a victim of crime, injury or involved in violence.”
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner said: “I am really saddened to hear that young people have died in this very highly dangerous practice.
“It seems that people just don’t consider of the consequences of this grave and foolish act.
“I certainly don’t want to stop people having fun but I really don’t want anyone, under peer pressure, to do anything stupid, which could result in them being criminalised, or even worse affecting their health or threatening their life.
“I am reassured that we have had no reported incidents of anyone coming to harm in Suffolk and I hope that remains the case.”
The online game has been subject to a backlash from other social media users, described by one as “…utter nonsense – like a chain letter in beverage form.”
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (February 20) Echo.