Teens are setting themselves on fire to get likes on Instagram
In the latest instance of The Kids Are Not Alright, teens are reportedly setting themselves on fire to get likes on social media and become "social media stars", according to hospital bosses.
The latest Instagram trend, "The Fire Challenge", asks youngsters to set themselves alight in order to boost their popularity on the internet. Many have been hospitalised as a result, with serious burns, some of which have even required surgery and life-support treatment.
The rise in the number of wannabe "social media stars" admitted to hospital with serious burns has been confirmed by staff at the specialist burns unit at Swansea's Morriston Hospital.
While Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board has not disclosed the exact number of patients they have treated as a result of the dangerous challenge, they have issued a warning to anyone taking part in the online dare.
The challenge originated in the United States, and started in 2012 after YouTuber, 1BlazinEagle1, uploaded a video of him lighting his chest hair on fire. By 2014, the video had garnered over 100,000 views, and other youngsters were inspired to try it.
In August, 12-year-old Timiyah Landers from Detroit burned 49 per cent of her body in the dangerous trend.
Timiyah was with two friends at her home in Michigan, and her mother, Brandi, was making them pancakes. Just minutes after she had left the girls on their own, Brandi heard a "loud bang" and Timiyah was engulfed in flames. Her stepfather splashed water on her body whilst her mother tore off her burning clothes.
Timiyah was taken to hospital and subsequently put on a ventilator in intensive care.
Speaking about the recent phenomenon, Jeremy Yarrow, a plastic surgeon at Morriston hospital said: "I can understand there is pressure on young people to gain acceptance or boost their online profiles by doing such risky things as these challenges. But from the patients I see, the results can be very different, with some requiring life support treatment and many left with lifelong scars. In some severe and sometimes life-threatening cases, they are admitted to hospital for long periods of time for complex surgery resulting in long term mental and physical issues."
This comes days after it was reported that youngsters in Indonesia are drinking boiled sanitary pad water in order to get high.
According to reports, the adolescents live in abject poverty on the streets of cities such as Kudus, Pati, Rembang and West Semarang.
The kids, who are typically between the ages of 13-16, take the sanitary towels (some of which have been used already) and boil them in water. This distils the chemical gels inside, which gives them a high similar to that experienced by huffing glue.
Commenting on this worrying social issue, Senior Commander Suprinarto, a representative from the National Narcotics Agency said, "The used pads they took from the trash were put in boiling water. After it cooled down, they drank it together... The materials they're using are legal, but they're not being used in a way that's intended, so it ends up being used like a drug. We need to take steps to educate people that there are materials that aren’t classified as drugs or psychotropics in the eyes of the law, but can still be misused."