Parents warned to keep kids offline after distressing video shared on TikTok (2024)

Parents are being urged to keep an especially close eye on their kids' online activity after a video of a man taking his life began circulating on TikTok.

Schools and social media safety experts are urging vigilance, warning that the highly distressing footage is being shared on the social media platform popular with children.

The tragic and disturbing video of a bearded American man Ronnie Mcnu*tt in his 30s was originally live streamed on Facebook, but the social media giant has taken steps to take it down.

However, it's now widely being shared on TikTok, with online safety consultants warning that it's often "disguised" as a video of "cute kittens".

Social media safety expert Kirra Pendergast told Safe on Social Media: "A lot of cyber safety experts are warning people, warning schools, warning adults, there has been some distressing content of a gentleman taking his own life that was live streamed on Facebook, and it's been widely viewed and shared from there across multiole platforms.

"It's also appearing as a video, disguised to be a video about kittens on TikTok."

Ms Pendergast, the CEO of Safe on Social, sent an alert to 7,000 schools in Australia overnight advising of the distressing content and urging them them to warn students and parents.

She also warned that the video had been embedded within other videos designed to appeal to children.

Parents warned to keep kids offline after distressing video shared on TikTok (1)

"It's like what we called Elsagate — which was when Elsa from Frozen got some full-on treatment with people posting two minutes into a video some obscene things happening to Elsa," Ms Pendergast told the Australian national broadcaster.

She also had advice for parents who suspected their kids had already seen the footage.

She continued: "If you think they've seen the footage and they're feeling distressed or they're out of sorts, they're not talking to you m tget're retreating to the bedroom all those kidns of things, talk to them about it.

"Make sure that if they don't want to talk to you about it that they know that they've got a whole heap of resources .. that they can contact to talk confidentially to somebody about this and how it's made them feel so they know that they can be supported in this space.

Ms Pendergast also had advice on how to deal with children who might become curious after hearing about the video at school or while talking with their peers.

She said the video, though originally a Facebook Live stream, had also been shared on Twitter and Instagram but had been removed from most platforms after being reported.

However, "because this is floating around on TikTok - it has been moderated on Facebook and it's starting to disappear. .. [but] we don't want little kids to see this, so take their devices off them.

"Get them off TikTok for the next couple of days - you can just tell them TikTok is broken for the sake of things in this space because we don't want them exposed to this extremely graphic content."

Cyber Safety advice on how to deal with this issue:

  • Ban phones from the bedroom and the bathroom
  • Pull the router out of the wall for the next couple of days

Safe on Social Media echoed Ms Pendergast's words, posting on its Facebook page this morning (Australia time): "There is a live suicide streaming on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok.

"The clip is extremely graphic and has yet to be moderated. Should this image appear in any of your feeds SCROLL past.

"Please advise all older students to do the same. We strongly recommend keeping your children offline today if possible, and heavily supervise all social media interactions until this content is removed.

"Check with your children to determine if they have viewed this clip. They are likely to be extremely distressed."

TikTok issued a statement to the ABC overnight which says: "On Sunday night (US time), clips of a suicide that had been live streamed on Facebook circulated on other platforms, including TikTok.

"Our systems have been automatically detecting and flagging these clips for violating our policies against content that displays, praises, glorifies or promotes suicide.

"We are banning accounts that repeatedly try to upload clips, and we appreciate our community members who've reported content and warned others against watching, engaging, or sharing such videos on any platform out of respect for the person and their family.

"If anyone in our community is struggling with thoughts of suicide or concerned about someone who is, we encourage them to seek support, and we provide access to hotlines directly from our app and in our Safety Centre."

Are you affected by this story?

If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues raised in this article please contact:

  • Samaritans helpline 116 123
  • Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48
  • Pieta House on 1800 247 247
  • The ISPCC on 01 676 7960

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Parents warned to keep kids offline after distressing video shared on TikTok (2024)
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