Blue whale, a horrifying dangerous game, has created quite a stir in the city. Of late, someone has been reported to have committed suicide under the influence of this deadly game in Bangladesh. Whether the claim is true or not is a matter of investigation. However there is no denying the fact that this game is driving many people, youths in particular, crazy across the world.
At the very outset we would like to warn all our readers that the aim of this piece of writing is not to arouse curiosity among people rather we strictly recommend that nobody should try this at home in any way.
What Is ‘Blue Whale’?
The Blue Whale Game, also known as “Blue Whale Challenge”, is a social network phenomenon that is claimed to exist in several countries, beginning in 2016. The game reportedly consists of a series of tasks assigned to players by administrators over a 50-day period, with the final challenge requiring the player to commit suicide.
“Blue Whale” came to prominence in May 2016 through an article in Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, that linked many unrelated child suicides to membership of group “F57” on the VKontakte social network. A wave of moral panic swept Russia. However the piece was later criticized for attempting to make a causal link where none existed, and none of the suicides was found to be as a result of the group activities.
In plain words, this can be described as a game where the administrators of the game instigate the participants to carry out different tasks. The difficulty level of the tasks increases as someone keeps proceeding in the game. In the last stage the participant is provoked to commit suicide.
About Blue Whale
While many experts suggest “Blue Whale” was originally a sensationalized hoax, they believe that it is likely that the phenomenon has led to instances of imitative self-harming and copycat groups, leaving vulnerable children at risk of cyber-bullying and online shaming. Blue Whale is described as being based on the relationship between participants (or challengers) and administrators. Once you’ve been accepted by an administrator, you are given your first of 50 daily challenges, these can be anything from simple tasks like listening to a certain song, watching unsettling videos and waking up at odd times to much more extreme requests like cutting words or whale symbols into your skin. The first challenge usually comes at 4:20am. Every time you accomplish a task, you must provide photographic or video proof of completion to the admin. As of late 2017, participation in Blue Whale seems to be increasing; however, internet safety organizations across the world have reacted by giving general advice to parents and educators on suicide prevention, mental health awareness, and online safety.
In 2016, Philipp Budeikin, a 21-year-old former psychology student who was expelled from his university, claimed that he invented the game in 2013. He said his intention was to cleanse society by pushing persons to suicide whom he deemed as having no value. Although originally claiming innocence and stating he was “just having fun”, Budeikin was arrested and held in Kresty Prison, St Petersburg and in May 2016 pled guilty to “inciting at least 16 teenage girls to commit suicide.” He was later convicted on two counts of inciting suicide of a minor. In June 2017, postman Ilya Sidorov was arrested in Moscow, also accused of setting up a “Blue Whale” group to encourage children to self-harm and ultimately commit suicide. He claimed to have persuaded 32 children to join his group and follow commands.
Many cases related to suicide under the influence of this game have been reported in different countries from time to time. Some of those are:
In March 2017, authorities in Russia were investigating approximately 130 separate cases of suicide related to the phenomenon. In February a 15-year-old and 16-year-old threw themselves off the top of a 14-story building in Irkutsk, Siberia after completing 50 tasks sent to them. Before they killed themselves together, they left messages on their pages on social networks. Also in February, a 15-year-old was in critical condition after throwing herself out of an apartment and falling on snow-covered ground in the town of Krasnoyarsk, also in Siberia.
On 11 May 2017, Russian media reported that Philipp Budeikin “plead guilty to inciting teenagers to suicide,” having described his victims as “biological waste” and claiming he was “cleansing society.” On 26 May 2017, Russian Duma (parliament) passed a bill introducing criminal responsibility for creating pro-suicide groups on social media, in the wake of 130 teen deaths linked to the Blue Whale suicide challenge. On 7 June 2017, President Putin signed a law imposing criminal penalties for inducing minors to suicide. The law imposes a maximum punishment of six years in prison.
In the city of San Antonio, Texas, the body of a 15-year-old was found on 8 July 2017. A cellphone had broadcast the teen’s suicide, which is believed to be related to the game. It is also alleged that the game was tied to a teen girl’s death in Atlanta, Georgia. The sheriff of LeFlore County, Oklahoma, said evidence showed an 11-year-old boy committed suicide in August 2017 while participating in the game.
Throughout 2017 media in India has reported several cases of child suicide, self harm and attempted suicide alleged to be a result of Blue Whale, although no case has been officially confirmed. In August 2017, the Government of India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology requested that several internet companies (including Google, Facebook, and Yahoo) remove all links which direct users to the game. Indian internet watchdog the Centre for Internet and Society has accused the coverage of effectively spreading and advertising a ‘game’ for which there is little evidence. In India suicide was the second most common form of death of children, according to a 2012 report.
Media in Chile have reported three cases of children suspected of involvement with ‘Blue Whale’. In Antofagasta, a mother reported to the police that her 12-year-old daughter had 15 cuts on her arm that formed the design of a whale. After being interviewed by police officers, the girl confessed that she followed game administrator’s instructions while playing this game. A 13-year-old girl in Padre Las Casas claimed to have played the game along with three other friends. The girl reached the tenth stage, also making cuts in her arms. An 11-year-old boy in Temuco accepted an invitation to join the game on Facebook in 2017 from an unidentified woman, but declined to participate after being contacted by a profile named “Ballena Azul”.
How To Protect Yourself
As a teenager and Internet user, the best way to protect yourself is to simply avoid anything to do with the Blue Whale Challenge. If you notice unusual activities amongst your peers, it’s best to report it to an elder, like your parents or teachers etc.
For parents, it’s important to educate yourself about this game/challenge, and how it works. This will enable you to stop your children from going awry. The Blue Whale Challenge is designed to take one’s self confidence away, and leave them in a state where they think suicide is indeed the best way. So, a psychiatrist’s help for the child involved and reports to the appropriate law enforcement are of the utmost importance.
Finally, parents and elder members of the families should be vigilant and observe whether their children/teenagers are falling for something dangerous like ‘blue whale’. They should also motivate their children not to go for such a challenge even if they are invited. The best way to face this problem is to talk among each other and raise awareness.