Health Minister Norman Lamb condemned a lethal internet drinking game as like playing “Russian roulette” on a visit to Cornwall.
Mr Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, said more had to be done to stop young people taking part in Neknominate – the Facebook craze where youngsters neck a pint of alcohol and nominate a friend to do the same.
Neknominate has already been linked to the deaths of five people this year and prompted Wadebridge resident Rex Rickard to jump 90ft from a bridge..
Mr Lamb, in Truro yesterday, said: “I’m massively concerned as a minister and as a father. Too many people may not want to be taking part but feel obliged to.
“We have got to point out the massive health risks here. It’s a Russian roulette with people’s lives.”
The minister said it was always difficult for older people to give advice to youngsters and very difficult for the state to step in.
He said he wanted teachers and youth workers, anyone who has contact with young people to help inform young people of the dangers associated with Neknominate.
He said: “We need to empower individuals not to have to do it.”
A video posted by a man originally from Liskeard saying “thanks but no thanks” to his nomination went viral.
In just over 24 hours the video, posted by Ashley Abernethie, who now lives in Plymouth, received just under 45,000 likes.
He said: “Cheers for the nomination. To be honest, I’ve seen it all now on the internet.”
He added: “I am not one for not getting involved, but it’s now getting a bit out of hand and for me to be able to do anything that’s going to create lots of likes, I’ll have to do something that’s probably going to hurt me.”