An 11-year-old boy hanged himself last weekend in East Point, Georgia, and according to his mother, it’s because he was trying to mimic a prank video he saw on YouTube.
Cantenecia Stokes told WSB-TV 2 in Atlanta that her son’s three younger siblings said he had gotten the idea from YouTube. They ran to tell Stokes what had happened and that their brother had stopped breathing. “He panicked and he was trying to take himself out, and he didn’t know if you pull, you’re only worsening, it’s tightening,” she said. He died four days later.
A search on YouTube for “hanging prank” brings up a few videos, including this one titled “Scary Hangman Prank!” that has over 11 million views. It provides no instructions on how to pull the prank safely, nor any warning.
“Suicide by Hanging Prank on Mom!” which has been viewed over 224,000 times, does provide a warning at the beginning. In the video, YouTube user “Riceman” pretends to hang himself to freak out his mom, which, aside from being incredibly dangerous, is an unfunny, terrible thing to do to a mother. She faints upon seeing him “hanging” from the ceiling.
The Daily Dot reached out to Riceman, who notes that “some people have hung themselves to death” doing this prank. “I certainly was not the first person to do this, you see this every Halloween,” he said in an email.
Update 1:59pm CT, Sept. 19: This post has been updated for clarity.