A Wigan grandma looked on in horror as teens practised a potentially fatal craze where they cause themselves to collapse unconscious.
Lesley Edwards was visiting Orrell Water Park when the behaviour of a cheering group of 20 teenagers caught her attention.
I have been going to Orrell Water Park for years, but I have to say these events have made me seriously rethink my afternoons outLesley Edwards
She was stunned to see one of the friends trying voluntarily to throttle himself into unconsciousness. When that didn’t work, one of his friends helped him until he passed out, banging his head in the process.
Others in the gathering were also geeing on the stunt enthusiastically - and filming it on their mobile phones.
Supermarket worker Lesley didn’t know of the craze, called Blackout, which originates in America and has subsequently spread to the UK via YouTube “nominations”.
Wigan Council chiefs today condemned the practice and urged children who felt pressured into taking part in such acts to confide in an adult.
Another disturbing self-asphysiaxtion practice is called Space Monkey in which people deliberately hyperventilate for a long period which itself can bring on a collapse into unconsciousness.
The revelation of the Wigan incident came in the week that the mother of Hereford 10-year-old Alfie Hyatt, who died in March, said that she now believes that he killed himself using the same choking game.
Mrs Edwards was so alarmed by what she saw at the Water Park that she challenged the group of 11 to 14-year-olds and threatened to call the authorities if they didn’t stop. And after hurling abuse at her, they fled.
Since reporting it on social media Lesley has been hailed by other parents for having the courage to intervene.
But she said: “I feel like everyone is trying to make me out into some sort of hero, which I am definitely not.
“But the whole situation is scary and had to be stopped, not only for the young boy who collapsed but for the sake of the other little ones on the park and the parents who didn’t feel able to speak up because we all know some teenagers can be scary creatures.
“I have been going to Orrell Water Park for years, but I have to say these events have made me seriously rethink my afternoons out.”
Talking to other parents, she said that although this was the very first time she had become aware of the craze, she has now established it is “a lot bigger and closer to home” than she first thought.
The craze has caused panic in the States where more than 80 young teens have died practising what is technically known as cerebral hypoxia.
The average age of the victims was just 13 years old.
Authorities are particularly concerned about the growing number of teens who carry out the choking game stunt alone.
Because if they get into trouble there may well be no one there to help save them.
A Wigan Council spokesman said: “We have not received any reports of children involved in auto-asphyxiation games in Orrell Park, but would advise all young people who feel bullied or pressured to participate in dangerous and potentially fatal activities to immediately confide in an adult that they trust.
“Members of the public with concerns about the welfare of children or adults in public places should immediately report the incident to the police.”