A deadly global Internet drinking craze, "Neknominate," also known as "neck and nominate," "neknomination," or "neck nomination," has taken the social media world by storm and is expected to soon hit the U.S. Originated in Australia, the drinking game trend has claimed five lives, with two deaths in Ireland, and a total of three in the UK. Many Americans, and others in different parts of the world, may ask themselves what the craze is about, and is it a great cause for concern?

According to the drinking game’s Facebook page, participants film themselves downing a drink and posting the video on social media. This participant then nominates a friend to outdo them. If the friend doesn’t post a more extreme video — according to the first participant — he or she is embarrassed on Facebook or Twitter for not following through with the neknomination. Dares have included surfing while drinking alcohol, mixing cleaning products with liquor, and even laying down in a fish tank (fish and water included), and drinking alcohol.

Neknominate surfing
Surfer's version of drinking a beer for his #neknominate. Luke Crozier/YouTube

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Girl surfing with drink for neknominate
Girl from Mexico drinks beer while surfing for #neknomation from New Zealand. Elle H/YouTube

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Guy mixes cleaning products with liquor for neknomination
Guy drinks de-icer for #neknominate. SuperVideoViews/YouTube

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Guy necks a beer in his fish tank
For #neknominate, guy necks a beer in his fish tank. NekLevel/YouTube

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While none of the participants above were involved in a fatal tragedy, others like 20-year-old Bradley Eames — the most recent neknominate victim — was not so lucky to escape death. Eames completed his Facebook booze challenged as he filmed himself drinking two pints of Gordon’s gin with teabags, four days before he was found dead, the Daily Mail reported. Eames’ friend warned him the game was dangerous, but the victim said he had to “show who is the boss.” It is estimated the rugby player drank almost 30 shots in the two minute video, according to the Daily Mail, before he challenged his friends to outdo him. The video, no longer available online, marks the third UK death of neknominate, although further testing still needs to be done.

The global trend could not only get people into a lot of trouble and lead to peer pressure, it can also result in a greater number of fatalities. "It's competitive, heavy drinking, and that tends to end up with people coming to serious grief through alcohol poisoning," Professor Michael Farrell, director of the University of New South Wales' National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, told the Sydney Morning Herald. The motto of the social media craze is: “Neck your drink. Nominate another. Don't break the chain, don't be a d***. The social drinking game for social media! #neknominate. Drink Responsibly."

Ironically, followers of the trend are doing everything but drinking responsibly. In the U.S., excessive alcohol use — including heavy drinking, binge drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or underage youth — accounts for approximately 88,000 deaths a year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this makes excessive alcohol use the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death. While the immediate health risks of heavy drinking range from unintentional injuries to alcohol poisoning, long-term health risks include neurological problems, heart problems, and several cancers.

The increasing popularity of neknominate has been transformed into something positive by a Vancouverite who was Facebook neknominated to buy and down a bottle of vodka. Julian DeSchutter went to the liquor store, priced up a bottle, and then took his cash to Tim Hortons to see how much food he could buy with that amount, The Huffington Post British Columbia reported. DeSchutter bought the food and began to offer coffee and sandwiches to the homeless on the streets of Vancouver. The Vancouver man then nominated two of his friends to "do something awesome" within 24 hours.

A Facebook page, called “Ban Neknomination,” started on Feb. 1, is a petition by users to ban the Internet craze and have the social media site remove its pages. Currently, the page has close to 28,000 followers and expects to have more in order to spread awareness about the dangerous trend that may spread to other parts of the world. Facebook user, Kerry Wragg, urges the social media site to ban the drinking game’s page, based on its rules that clearly state, “content which causes self harm... Is NOT allowed on this site. So- 5 people have died. At what point is that line going to be drawn?” The Neknominate video page continues to be up on Facebook, and no word is released on whether the social media site plans to shut it down.