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New French social media craze leads to teen death

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Two participants of the social media game "a l'eau ou resto" (to the water or the restaurant). Photo: YouTube
16:26 CEST+02:00
A new social media craze sweeping France which involves challenging people via Facebook to throw themselves into rivers or the sea resulted in tragedy this week when a teenager drowned. Warnings have been issued over the "stupid and tragic game".

The 19-year-old drowned in a river in a town in Brittany, western France after taking part in a new social media game called “a l’eau ou au resto” (the water or a restaurant).

The game involves challenging people to throw themselves into the cold waters of the sea or a river, then posting a film on Facebook and challenging other friends to do the same. They must take on the dare within 48 hours or if not then the forfeit is to buy their friends a meal at a restaurant.

The game, which sounds harmless enough, has seen youths throwing themselves into the sea in ports like Dunkirk and Calais in northern France in recent weeks. The tragic incident in Brittany is believed to be the first death linked to the game, which appears to have originated in the Faroe Islands before spreading to Norway.

According to reports the teenager tied his bike to his leg so he would not lose it in the river before riding into the water of the Vilaine river near the town of Béganne. “The river was six metres deep and he could not get back to the surface,” police colonel Sylvain Laniel told TV station France 3 Brittany.

(The tweet below shows an image of the police and press at the scene of the tragic death)

After the death in Brittany authorities have issued a warning to young Facebook users about the dangers of taking on the challenge.

“It’s a tragic and stupid game,” said deputy prosecutor Igor Souchu before calling for “restraint and caution” around the new craze.

The death occurred on the same day that national police chiefs issued a warning about the game after a young man was left critically injured after jumping in to the sea at Wimereux, near Calais.

“Even if it feels like fun, there is a risk of drowning, accidents and slips,” said Frank Dehay from the national police body DGPN.

In April this year our colleagues at The Local Norway reported how a similar take on the game was gripping the nation, with apparently no one being unable to escape the challenge.

The 'Jump in the Sea Challenge' sees victims dared to throw themselves into icy waters to avoid a penalty, which normally involves buying the challenger large amounts of alcohol. 

The videos below taken from YouTube show people taking on the challenge.

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The new social media game comes after the global online drinking craze Neknominate provoked concerns after several people died.

Neknominate, which involves people posting videos of themselves downing alcohol and then nominating others to do the same, raised alarm bells in France.

One month after the game claimed its fifth victim world wide, France’s National Association for Prevention of Alcoholism and Addiction (ANPAA)  wants the game to be criminalized under current French laws. This week they have filed legal proceedings in France, in a bid to stop the diffusion of the videos on line.

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