Neknomination death: Irish teenager dies after taking part in social media craze

A Facebook page promoting the drinking game is to be discontinued after pleas from the 19-year-old's family

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The Independent Online

A Northern Ireland based social media page, which encourages users to post videos of themselves carrying out stunts while inebriated is to be discontinued after the death of an Irish teenager.

19-year-old Jonny Byrne, from County Carlow, was believed to have been taking part in the Neknomination craze when he jumped into the River Barrow and died on Saturday.

The drinking game encourages participants to film themselves “necking” liquor while performing a stunt, before nominating a friend to do the same. Jonny had jumped in the river after downing a pint of alcohol.

Now, following an emotional plea from the young man’s family, the Neknomination Facebook page is to become an alcohol awareness page.

The teenager’s father, Joe Byrne, told Irish state broadcaster RTE: "I'm pleading to every youngster to think of the things they are doing.

"It has cost my son his life. The whole family is devastated and our lives will never be the same again.

"I hope this message is heeded, because for us, life is virtually over."

Jonny entered the River Barrow on Saturday night and, after hours of searching, his body was recovered shortly before 11.00 GMT on Sunday.

The police, Waterford Coastguard, civil defence officers and local search and rescue teams were involved in the search.

Following his death, Jonny’s brother posted a message on his Facebook page, urging people to stop taking part in the challenge.

“This neck nomination s*** HAS TO STOP RIGHT NOW my young 19 year old brother Jonny Byrne from Carlow died tonight in the middle of his nomination.

“He thought he had to try and beat the competition and after he necked his pint he jumped into the river,” he said.

The Northern Ireland Neknominate Facebook page was set up last Tuesday to exhibit videos of the drinking game. It gained over 10,000 likes in less than  a week.

However, on Monday, those behind the page said it would be suspended and run instead as an alcohol awareness page.

A spokesperson told the BBC: “We made the decision a few nights ago to no longer continue to run the page the way it was originally set up.

“All videos have been removed and we'd like to continue as a neck nomination awareness page, highlighting the dangers surrounding the game.”

Children’s Minister, Frances Fitzgerlad, also voiced her concerns. She told RTE: “It is a highly dangerous – potentially lethal – phenomenon, where an inappropriate peer pressure element adds to the risks.”

Jonny’s death comes after that of 22-year-old Dublin DJ Ross Cummins.

Ross, who was found unconscious in a house in Dublin city centre on Saturday morning, died in hospital amid reports that he had been playing Neknomination at the time of his death.

The Neknomination craze is thought to have originated in Australia, from where it has spread to the UK and Ireland.