A 16-year-old Dutch boy has died after carrying out an online challenge to auto asphyxiate, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday.
The death is the first in the Netherlands to be attributed to the craze known as the ‘choking challenge’, in which the person cuts off the flow of oxygen to their brain to produce a feeling of euphoria, the paper said. The craze is also known abroad as the ‘fainting game’.
At first police thought Tim Reynders had committed suicide but were able to disprove the theory because the boy had filmed himself with the belt of a toweling dressing gown round his neck. He then tripped on the stairs, became unconscious and subsequently died.
The accident happened in May but the boy’s parents have now gone public, telling the Volkskrant in an interview that youngsters should be warned about the dangers attached to internet challenges.
The paper said two Belgian boys died in 2012 after choking themselves and a 13-year-old boy from Hilversum was in a coma for five days after attempting a challenge to eat a spoonful of powdered cinnamon.
Erasmus University professor Peter Nikken told the paper that structural policy is needed to teach teenagers how to deal with social media. ‘Teenagers try out things, it is in their nature,’ he said. ‘The story they are getting focuses on the positive effects, such as the fantastic high but if you talk about the risks – brain damage or a coma – you can temper that.’
Education about social media should also include digital bullying, he said.