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‘Chroming’: Australian teenager dies after sniffing deo in new social media

New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) A new social media trend of sniffing deodorant has claimed the life of an Australian teenager after the act left her brain damaged “beyond repair”, media reports said.

Chroming — also known as huffing or sniffing — is a form of Volatile Substance Use (VSU) that involves inhaling toxic chemicals, such as those from aerosol cans, paint, or petrol for a quick high. It has become the latest trend on TikTok and other social media platforms, and is on an “upward” trend in Australia.

Esra Haynes, a 13-years-old high school student in Victoria, went into cardiac arrest and suffered extensive, irreparable brain damage after inhaling the chemicals from a deodorant can at a friend’s sleepover in March, reported.

After being on life support for eight days, her parents chose to turn off her life support.

Her death has exposed the craze, which has gained popularity among tenagers as it is not done using hard drugs.

However, experts warned that chroming can be extremely dangerous and has the potential to cause serious short-term physical or cognitive harm, even “sudden death”.

“Problem with volatile substances is that they have different effects, because they have different chemical profiles. But we know that, beyond intoxication, they can cause serious damage,” Sarah MacLean, Associate Professor at LaTrobe University, was quoted as saying.

“Chronic users show significant neurological and cognitive impairment, including deficits in learning, memory and verbal intelligence and damage to organs and bone marrow.

“They have the capacity for sudden death, but there is no telling who is going to die, when, or how with misuse.”

Esra is not the first victim of the dangerous trend in Australia. Since 2019, two 16-year-old boys have died after participating in the trend. Another teenage girl suffered brain damage, Strait Times reported.

Esra’ parents blamed social media for her learning about chroming and called for tighter restrictions to avoid kids getting access to that kind of “adult” content, the report said.

Previously, social media has seen several dangerous trends like the ice bucket challenge, choking game, and blue whale challenge.

“Social media rewards outrageous behaviour, and the more outrageous, the bigger the bragging rights,” according to the American Academy of Paediatrics.

“It’s a quick-moving, impulsive environment, and the fear of losing out is real for teens. That environment plays into a teen’s underdeveloped ability to think through their actions and possible consequences.”

“We want to help other children not fall into the silly trap of doing this silly thing. It’s unquestionable that this will be our crusade,a Esra’s father Paul Haynes told the Herald Sun.