Heartbroken family warn parents over latest social media toxic fume challenge after son, 11, ‘with heart of gold’ died at friend’s sleepover

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The family of an 11-year-old boy who died at a sleepover have warned other parents about a challenge circulating online that encourages the inhalation of toxic fumes.

Tommie-lee Gracie Billington died on Saturday, March 2, after being found unresponsive by paramedics at a friend’s house at Greenset Close, Lancaster.

The schoolboy died after allegedly taking part in a dangerous social media challenge, his family claimed today.

Tommie-lee’s grandmother, Tina Burns, has today spoken out about the death of her grandson, claiming he ‘died instantly’ at a sleepover where he and a friend had ‘tried the TikTok craze chroming’.

The teaching assistant said the family want TikTok ‘taken down’ and for children under the age of 16 to be banned from using social media.

Tommie-lee Gracie Billington, 11, (pictured) died in an incident at a home in Greenset Close, Lancaster, on Saturday

Tommie-lee Gracie Billington, 11, (pictured) died in an incident at a home in Greenset Close, Lancaster, on Saturday

Tommie-lee pictured with his father Graham Billington

Chroming has been used as a slang term to describe the trend of inhaling toxic fumes to get a high since before TikTok’s launch in the UK in 2018. The social media platform has also blocked any videos or searches using the term.

Tina told the Lancashire Post: ‘We don’t want any other children to follow TikTok or be on social media.

‘In fact, we want to get TikTok taken down and no children to be allowed on any social media under 16 years of age.

‘This is breaking us all but we want to help save other children’s lives and give families awareness to keep their children safe.’

Lancashire Police was called to the scene by North West Ambulance Service shortly after 12pm. The boy was transferred to hospital but was later pronounced dead.

The grandmother said she had received many messages from other parents ‘thanking her’ for raising awareness of the challenge.

Tina said she knew of one woman who had ‘no idea’ about the social media crazes and her children ‘happily’ sit on TikTok in their bedrooms.

‘She has now removed all social media from their devices and is so grateful that we are openly talking about it,’ the teacher added.

Tina, who works with year five and six, has also spoken to the headteacher at the school where she works, in order to spread the message even further to other educational institutions in the area.

She paid tribute to her grandson and told the outlet that he had a ‘heart of gold,’ adding that the family have been left ‘utterly devastated’ by the loss of Tommie-lee, who was ‘bright’, ‘energetic’ and the ‘life and soul of any room’.

The word ‘chroming’ is an informal word that originates from Australia. It involves inhaling fumes from a toxic source such as an aerosol can, a spray deodorant or a paint container.

Inhaling the fumes affects the central nervous system and slows down brain activity which results in a short-term high.

Tommie-lee pictured with his father Graham Billington

Tommie-lee pictured with his father Graham Billington

But the practice is extremely dangerous and can result in dizziness, hallucinations, vomiting, heart attacks, suffocation and can permanently damage the brain, liver and kidneys.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: ‘We were called by the ambulance service at 12:04pm on Saturday, March 2, to an address on Greenset Close in Lancaster to a report of a sudden death.

‘Emergency services attended an address and found an 11 year old boy unresponsive. Sadly he was later pronounced dead.

‘The death is currently being treated as unexplained and the Coroner has been informed.

‘A police investigation is ongoing and the boy’s family are being supported by officers. Our thoughts are with the boy’s loved ones at this incredibly sad time.

‘If anyone has any information they are asked to contact Police on 101 Log 0527 of March 2.’