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TikTok paracetamol challenge: Investigation launched after Southampton incident – what is the trend?

Date: Monday, 02nd Oct 2023 | Category: General

Teenagers aged between 15 and 17 were involved in an incident at Southampton. An investigation has been launched after teenagers allegedly purposely overdosed on paracetamol in a bid to see who could stay in hospital the longest as part of a new TikTok trend.

The incident, which took place on Tuesday 15 August as a result of problematic social media trends.

What is the TikTok paracetamol challenge?

The paracetamol challenge appears to be where people encourage each other to take a higher dose of paracetamol than what is recommended in an attempt to be hospitalised. The aim is for people to stay in hospital for as long as possible, and the person who does ‘wins’ the challenge.

TikTok have said that they would not host such content on their site, and a search for paracetamol on the site does show a health and wellbeing message which encourages people to seek support. It reads: “You are not alone. If you or someone you know is having a hard time, help is always available.” It also then includes the number for the Samaritans, 116 123. People can call this number 24/7 if they need some help.

But while warnings have been issued, resulting in some dramatic media attention, there is little evidence that the dare has spread beyond a few isolated cases.

The hashtag #paracetamolchallenge is largely dominated by others urging young people not to take part in the fad. Some have shared personal experiences. One user wrote: “My sister died from taking too much paracetamol – kids don’t do it.”

Despite this practitioners are urged to inform parents of children they are working with.