TikTok is full of many trends and challenges that are often funny, but can sometimes veer into upsetting territory.
The ‘Timer Trend’ on TikTok is thought to have been created several months ago but has had a resurgence on the platform in recent weeks, with the #timertrend having racked up 8 million views at the time of writing.
The trend sees users upload a video of themselves setting up a timer on their phone, with an alarm set to go off anywhere between several minutes and several days. A caption is often added to the video saying something like “let’s see who cares” or “I will do it when it runs out”, meaning the poster is suggesting they will take their own life once the timer runs out.
The disturbing aim of the post is to get someone to reach out after seeing the video or message to ‘prove they care’. The timer is used, hopefully in a fictional sense, to denote the time they have left to ‘live’, with the user hoping people will start a conversation with them to show them who cares about them.
Users often swap the word ‘dead’’ for ‘unalive’ and ‘suicidal’ for ‘s0ic1al’ to get around the platform’s list of banned words. Often, if they search for certain worrying terms on the app, the platform will show users contact details of mental health crisis helplines instead.
TikTok’s content guidelines say: “While we don’t allow content that promotes, glorifies, or normalizes suicide, self-harm, or eating disorders, we do support people who choose to share their experiences to raise awareness, help others who might be struggling, and find support among our community.”
Disturbingly, there are reports of some posts on the social media platform urging others to try out the trend on their followers. If you come across a video promoting the ‘timer trend’, you can report the post to TikTok by clicking the white arrow on the right hand side of the video and clicking ‘report’.