What is the 'chapstick challenge'? Viral TikTok trend uses lip balm to promote suicidal thoughts among teens
Numerous videos uploaded by teenagers, expressing their intent to die by suicide, have trended under the challenge's hashtag
A new trend on TikTok has gone viral under the hashtag #chapstickchallenge. Critics of the videos posted under the hashtag claim that this social media trend is propagating suicidal ideation. Many believe that TikTok has yet again given a platform to something that will ultimately harm the members of the app.
Numerous videos uploaded by teenagers, expressing their intent to die by suicide, have trended under the challenge's hashtag. Since the viral challenge uses the name of a branded lip balm 'ChapStick', it seems to slipped though the cracks in the app's backend security.
What is the 'chapstick challenge'?
In the videos posed under the hashtag "#chapstickchallenge", young people use a fresh tube of chapstick on their lips. After they are done with their lip moisturizing routine, they confess that they plan to die by suicide on the day they have completely finished the tube they have just started using.
At this time, there are comments under user @ashleysolis__ video where other TikTokers have urged others to not partake in a heartbreaking challenge such as this.
One of them shared, "Reply to @aloexrqre please do not normalize something so heartbreaking! #chapstickchallenge #aloexrqre #fyp."
Another user also warned people about how this trend may influence young people to take their own lives and wrote, "I know you’re struggling right now, but this isn’t a trend." This user then added, “You’re giving other kids the idea to start it.”
The trend is reflective of how teenagers are increasingly romanticizing the idea of suicide often as a bid for attention on online platforms. There doesn't seem to be enough resources to help adolescents understand the harm they may cause by propogating suicide ideation through viral challenges.
One user wrote, "Most people doing this challenge don’t do it in the end and just want attention, but it’s still wrong to encourage them to do it," while another agreed and said, "exactly they romanticize it and turn it into a ploy for attention like why".
One user for instance shared a video titled “Chapstick challenge day 16", however, a day later, the user also apologized for the same and said "I’m sorry" claiming that they will no longer be taking part in the trend.
While many lamented that this is not a trend to rush into or a topic that can be turned into a game, many made it a point to tell the people who are posting these videos that they are loved and there was no shame in reaching out for help if needed. One such typical message was, “You are loved. Don’t do this.”
This is also not the only harmful trend to have gone viral on the app. The others include The "outlet challenge" also called "the penny challenge", the "concussion challenge" or "skullbreaker challenge" -- and these are just the ones that have gone extremely 'viral'. There are other less popular but equally harmful challenges that seem to regularly evade the platform's security protocols that should be doing a better job protecting minors and vulnerable adolescents under the age of 18 who among the app's most avid users.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7 by texting HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.