A Boy Is Dead After Trying the TikTok ‘Chroming’ Trend

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Mar 21, 2024

In Lancaster, a devastating event unfolded as 11-year-old Tommie-Lee Gracie Billington fell victim to a dangerous social media challenge known as “chroming.” This tragic incident occurred after Tommie-Lee was found unresponsive at a friend’s house on March 2, 2024.

Despite immediate medical attention, the young boy was declared dead shortly after being rushed to the hospital.

Understanding 'Chroming'

Chroming, a hazardous trend circulating on TikTok, involves inhaling toxic chemicals, typically from household products, to experience a high (via Forbes). This act can severely affect the central nervous system, causing symptoms like dizziness, slurred speech, and even hallucinations.

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The ultimate dangers of chroming are dire, potentially leading to heart attacks or suffocation. Tommie-Lee’s involvement in this trend led to a suspected cardiac arrest, a shocking outcome of a seemingly innocent curiosity.

A Family's Heartbreak

The loss of Tommie-Lee has left his family in profound grief. His grandmother, Tina Burns, expressed the family’s devastation, recalling Tommie-Lee’s heart of gold and their unbearable loss.

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The tragedy has propelled his family to call for action, urging TikTok and other social media platforms to enhance measures protecting children from harmful content. “He died instantly,” Tina said, highlighting the immediate and fatal consequences of the trend (via The Times).

A Plea for Change

In the wake of the tragedy, Tommie-Lee’s family has voiced a strong message against social media’s negative influence on children. “This cost my son his life from trying something other kids are doing,” Tommie-Lee’s mother, Sherri, said (via The Sun). “Please talk to your children about the consequences of this.”

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They advocate for the removal of TikTok from accessibility to minors and propose banning children under 16 from all social media platforms. This drastic step reflects their desperation to prevent another family from enduring such an unimaginable loss.

The Investigation Unfolds

The circumstances surrounding Tommie-Lee’s death remain under investigation.

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Lancashire police, alongside the area coroner, Kate Bissett, are treating the incident as unexplained as they confirm whether or not Tommie-Lee had inhaled substances.

Online Safety Tips for Parents

In light of this tragedy, internet safety experts, like Allison Troutner, emphasize the importance of parental intervention to safeguard children online (via The Sun).

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Recommendations include establishing a family tech agreement, setting parental controls, and maintaining open communication about internet dangers. These strategies aim to balance safety with independence, ensuring children can navigate the online world more securely.


Community Response and Reflection

The local community and beyond have been touched by Tommie-Lee’s story, continuing discussions about the role of social media in children’s lives and the responsibility of platforms in regulating content (via Scientific American).

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The incident serves as a painful reminder of the need for vigilance and proactive measures to protect young users from harmful online challenges.


A Call to Action

Tommie-Lee’s family, devastated by their loss, call upon parents, educators, and social media companies to take immediate action.

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By sharing their story, they hope to raise awareness of the dangers associated with online trends and encourage stricter controls and education on internet safety.


Social Media's Role

Questions about the responsibility of social media platforms like TikTok in preventing access to dangerous content is nothing new.

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Critics argue that more robust algorithms and age restrictions are necessary to shield young users from harmful challenges and trends (via the American Psychological Association).


Preventive Measures

The tragedy has ignited a conversation on how to prevent similar incidents effectively.

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Experts suggest that beyond parental controls, there needs to be a collective effort from educators, tech companies, and policymakers to create a safer online environment for children (via The Wall Street Journal).


A Community in Mourning

Lancaster, the town where this tragedy occurred, stands in solidarity with Tommie-Lee’s family.

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The community calls for awareness and action to ensure the safety of all children in the digital age. The loss of Tommie-Lee is not just a private sorrow but a public call to action.


Reflection and Change

As this story unfolds, it serves as a potent reminder of the real-world consequences of online actions.

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It challenges all stakeholders — parents, communities, and social media platforms — to reflect on their roles in protecting children and to commit to making meaningful changes to ensure a safer online world for the youngest users.