A CHARITY promoting young people's mental health and wellbeing has spoken out against a joke encouraging fans of Justin Bieber to self-harm which appears to have been taken seriously.
Ardent fans of the teenage pop sensation, known as "Beliebers", have published photographs of themselves self-harming.
The hashtags #CutForBieber and #CuttingForBieber began trending on Twitter after a joker on 4Chan suggested that fans cut themselves in protest against photographs appearing to show the 18-year-old smoking marijuana.
Director of campaigns at charity YoungMinds called this behaviour "irresponsible, reprehensible and extremely dangerous".
Lucie Russell said: "Self harming is not a fashion, fad or statement. It's a signal that young people are experiencing extreme distress and need help.
"Cutting is a self-destructive act that is a way of coping with overwhelming emotions."
"To suggest young people cut themselves as some kind of protest is a very perverted and dangerous idea, and these people need to take responsibility and stop this activity immediately."
The response on Twitter to #CutForBieber has been predominantly outcry against the idea as well as joke parodies including pictures of arms covered in tomato ketchup and baked beans.
However, a small number of young people appear to have taken it seriously and have published images of themselves with self-inflicted wounds and messages appealing to Bieber not get involved in drugs.
Images appearing to show Bieber at a party in a hotel room in Newport Beach holding a marijuana joint were published on gossip website TMZ on Friday.
After the photos were surfaced Bieber used social network Twitter to speak to his fans, saying: "Everyday growing and learning. Trying to be better. U get knocked down, u get up (sic)."
The TMZ report said Bieber was with a rapper friend Lil Twist in the hotel room a day after a paparazzo was killed trying to photograph the popstar's Ferrari.
Bieber subsequently called for more stringent paparazzi laws.
In a statement, Bieber said his prayers were with the photographer's family: "Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders, and the photographers themselves."
Last month police uncovered a plot by a convicted murderer to strangle the teen pop sensation.
Dana Martin, 45, who is serving two life sentences at the Southern New Mexico Corrections Facility at Las Cruces, for the rape and murder of 15-year-old Vermont schoolgirl DeAndra Fluorucci, 12 years ago, became so infatuated with Bieber that he commissioned a tattoo of the singer on his leg.
But when his attempts to contact the 18-year-old Canadian megastar were unsuccessful, an upset Martin decided to plot his death.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.