Many TikTok users are taking to various social media sites to warn people of a graphic video circulating on the platform, and the platform has said it is working to remove those videos. A recent viral trend on TikTok involves people posting a graphic video of a man livestreaming his suicide to shock other users, either by sharing it in comments, hiding it in another video that appears more innocent or simply not sharing a warning about the content. Heavy is not linking to or posting the video in this article.
The original video shows the gruesome suicide of Ronnie McNutt, a 33-year-old man from New Albany, Mississippi, who died by suicide on Facebook Live on August 31, 2020. TikTok users have been posting videos with wording warning about a video that starts with “a man with a beard” who is sitting at a desk, and telling other users to click away and not watch it.
The warning videos, which have appeared on many users “for you” pages include similar language starting with a TW (trigger warning), and then say, “if you see a video of a white man with a beard at a desk pls click off the video immediately. pls don’t attempt to find it out of curiosity. seriously.” Comments on the video and search trends show many people are attempting to find out more information about the video after seeing the videos warning about it.
According to The Verge reporter Julia Alexander, the video “seems to have gone around 4chan a few days ago and I guess has made its way to TikTok.” She wrote that she hadn’t seen it on TikTok but had seen a “flood” of warning videos about the viral trend:
Is anyone else’s FYP full of videos warning people on TikTok of a graphic video going around? Said video seems to have gone around 4chan a few days ago and I guess has made its way to TikTok. I haven’t seen it on TikTok, but I’m seeing a flood of these types of warning videos. pic.twitter.com/hZPQQg1tXd
— julia alexander (@loudmouthjulia) September 7, 2020
TikTok told The Verge that it is working to remove all the videos showing the graphic suicide and that they are banning users that re-upload the clip. A spokesperson told the outlet:
Our systems have been automatically detecting and flagging these clips for violating our policies against content that displays, praises, glorifies, or promotes suicide. We are banning accounts that repeatedly try to upload clips, and we appreciate our community members who’ve reported content and warned others against watching, engaging, or sharing such videos on any platform out of respect for the person and their family. If anyone in our community is struggling with thoughts of suicide or concerned about someone who is, we encourage them to seek support, and we provide access to hotlines directly from our app and in our Safety Center.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Heavy. Facebook has also not commented yet about the video, although one of McNutt’s friends criticized the platform for its response to the video. Clips of the video were spread quickly on other sites. YouTube and Twitter have also not commented about whether those social media companies are working to take down the video.
Many People Took to Twitter to Warn Users About the Graphic Viral Video
tw // suicide
please please be careful scrolling through tiktok tonight people are posting a graphic video of a man with a beard committing suicide on facebook live. i would avoid the app for the next day or so until tiktok gets this settled
— 𖤐𝖌𝖗𝖊𝖒𝖑𝖎𝖓 𝖌𝖋𖤐 (@barelygoth) September 7, 2020
On September 7, Twitter became flooded with warnings about the viral trend on TikTok, with many people sharing a still of the video and telling people to exit any video where they see that image. One user wrote, “Apparently there’s a tiktok circulating where a man kills himself with a shotgun? Pls stay safe n stay away from tiktok for the next couple days till the video gets banned it’s really graphic and it keeps showing up on ppls for you pages.”
Another said, “if you see this guy on your fyp PLS SCROLL PAST IT!! its a vid of a guy committing su*c*de on camera!! it just popped up on my fyp and i didnt know what it was and i watched it and i almost had a panic attack from it. pls rt and spread this!!”
Many others wrote about how the video is being edited into “innocent dog and cat videos.” One warning reads: “theyre now hiding the video in other videos so it might look like just a normal cat video or anything else so please be careful and either stay off tiktok for a few days or only look at your following page!”
March For Our Lives, an organization which aims to end gun violence, also posted a warning about the video on Twitter:
There is a triggering video circulating @tiktok_us of a man committing suicide using a shotgun. If you see a white man with a beard at a desk, please skip the video and report. Mental health resources available below.https://t.co/ISMKztjzl0
— March For Our Lives (@AMarch4OurLives) September 7, 2020
The video is also spreading on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites. March For Our Lives wrote on Twitter, “There is a triggering video circulating @tiktok_us of a man committing suicide using a shotgun. If you see a white man with a beard at a desk, please skip the video and report. Mental health resources available below.”
The Trend Is Similar to the Viral YouTube ‘Video 1444’ Trend From December 2019
yall if u see a video with this image pls keep scrolling, dont watch it, close the app, do whatever it takes but its very graphic, its a guy committing suici/de and i repeat its VERY GRAPHIC dont search 1444 or if you see a tweet with that number keep scrolling PLS DONT WATCH IT pic.twitter.com/P1NUY1tCmq
— 🀄 𝒆𝒏𝒖⁷ (@kakehirai) October 20, 2019
The latest trend is similar to a similar story from December 2019, in which a graphic video titled “Video 1444” went viral on various social media platforms. That video showed a Russian man committing suicide by shooting himself in the head with a shotgun. Many versions of the video were shared on social media and people were linked to it without any warning about the content of the video.
The video was first posted to YouTube and went viral before it was removed by the platform. Although it was eventually taken down, the clip was re-uploaded and shared to multiple other platforms.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7 by texting HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. Another options is NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), which you can reach by calling 1-800-950-6264 or texting NAMI to 741741.