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Gardaí investigate if teen (14) died after taking part in viral TikTok challenge

Sarah Mescall, Cloongowna, Kilnamona, Co. Clare died at Crumlin Hospital, Dublin on Monday

Gardaí are investigating if a 14-year-old girl may have died earlier this week after taking part in a viral TikTok challenge.

It is understood the girl, named locally as Sarah Mescall (14), a second year student from Kilnamona, Co. Clare, fell ill last weekend and was rushed to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and, later, Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

The girl was pronounced dead at the hospital on Monday morning. Gardaí said they have notified the coroner of the death and an investigation file is being prepared.

One line of inquiry reportedly being pursued by investigators is whether the girl became ill after taking part in a so-called aerosol challenge on TikTok, known as “chroming”. It has claimed a number of lives in recent years, especially in Australia where it has been linked to the deaths of several young people.

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In a statement, the school principal said it was a “terrible tragedy” for the girl’s family, school and wider community, and that the school’s sympathy and prayers were with the girl’s family and friends.

The principal said the school had been in contact with the girl’s parents, who have requested privacy.

“Offers of support have been pouring in and are greatly appreciated. Our school has implemented our critical incident management plan. The school has been in contact with psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service and they have been working with teachers so that we can best assist our students at this time,” the principal sad.

“The teachers have been and will continue to help our students deal with this tragic event. The school remains open to parents to support them and offer them advice and guidance during this time.”

A funeral mass will be held on Friday in Kilnamona Church at 11 am with burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

A spokeswoman for the Garda said: “An Garda Síochána has notified the Coroner of the death of a girl (14) which occurred at Crumlin Children’s Hospital on the morning of Monday 25th September 2023.

An Garda Síochána’s focus is the preparation of an investigation file for the Coroner.”

The girl, from a family of five, was an active member of her local GAA club. In a message posted on social media, the club said the girl was “lovable, kind, energetic and fun-loving”.

In a statement, TikTok said content such as aerosol challenges are prohibited on its platform and would be removed if found.

“We will continue to prioritise protecting and supporting our community, working with expert partners and providing safety resources to those who need them,” a TikTok spokesperson said.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times