Are Drinking Dares Creating A Dangerous New Trend?

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The rules are simple. Down (or "neck") a pint of alcohol in one go. Capture it on film, post the video on Facebook, and nominate two or three friends to do the same. They now have 24 hours to film their own drinking binge.

But, with reports of outrageous stunts, attacks on animals, and even deaths, NekNominate is becoming anything but simple. What started as a purportedly harmless drinking dare — primarily focused in the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and South Africa — has blown into a widespread epidemic of sorts as participants risk their lives to one-up each other.

While the standard NekNominate involves someone simply chugging their drink, which is obviously dangerous in itself, many are adding stunts to up the ante. One 19-year-old woman stripped down in a British supermarket last week, then proceeded to neck a can of Stella. Another woman road a horse into her local supermarket, gulped down a Pepsi, and is now facing a police probe.

Pepsi girl is getting off easy. NekNominate has now been linked to four deaths in the U.K. and Ireland over the past two weeks. A 20-year-old London man collapsed and died after downing wine, whiskey, vodka, and lager, while a 29-year-old Cardiff local was filmed necking vodka before his death. A 22-year-old Dublin man passed away after reportedly completing the challenge, and a 19-year-old Northern Irish man drowned after jumping into a river as part of his dare.

The deaths, combined with reports of participants drinking blood, engaging in reckless dares, and, in one case, cutting off a bird's head and eating its entrails before slurping down a bottle of gin with a live goldfish inside, has prompted calls to action. Facebook, which serves as an online forum for the filmed challenges, has been called upon to ban NekNominations.

"We do not tolerate content which is directly harmful, for example bullying, but controversial or offensive behavior is not necessarily against our rules," the social networking site responded. "We encourage people to report things to us which they feel break our rules so we can review and take action on a case-by-case basis. We also give people the ability to remove themselves from an uncomfortable conversation through tools such as untagging and blocking."

In other words, you're pretty much on your own. But, if four deaths don't stop this dangerous stunt, what will?