The internet is known as the “great equalizer” and has been responsible for much advancement in knowledge and wealth. It also has a dark side which has been thrust into the spotlight again after a rash of injuries and suicides prompted by a popular internet suicide game called ‘Blue Whale’. The name may be meant to reflect the act of whale “suicide” via beaching.
The internet game is believed to have originated in Russia and involves teens signing up for a “challenge” that involves progressive levels of risky activity that are meant to culminate in suicide.
The Blue Whale challenge allegedly involves vulnerable teenagers being contacted by the game’s ‘curator’ on social media and provoked into completing a number of tasks over the course of 50 days.
These involve watching horror videos all day, cutting all relationships with family and friends, and various forms of self-harm that must be filmed and sent to the curator for confirmation that the challenge is completed.
The game supposedly culminates in supervisors asking participants to commit suicide.
Teens were also threatened if they refused to comply with the requests, as their curators use IP trackers to identify where the victims actually live.
Three suicides in Russia have been linked to the game, along with another in Portugal and a serious injury in Spain. Russian police are believed to be investigating up to 130 other suicides possibly connected to ‘Blue Whale’. British police are taking the stories seriously enough to issue a warning to parents.
Devon and Cornwall Police PSCO Kirsty Down posted on Twitter: ‘Whoever created this horrible game is sick. Parents: Please be aware of this ‘game’. Talk to your children about it if concerned.’
The game may or may not an urban legend but Reuters has compiled a list of stories related to the twisted game, which you can see below.
On an editorial not, while this could be nothing more than a series of typical teen tragedies being related by a viral urban legend, I first heard the story from my teenage son and his friends. Even if it doesn’t exist, the concept has now gone viral and vulnerable teens could still be targeted by copycats or decide to take up the idea themselves. In any case, it is always important to communicate with your children about things like this, even if it feels silly. The darkest presences on the internet frequently target those who feel disconnected and disenfranchised. It is important for us to make sure our children know we are deeply about what they see and hear.
The Daily Mail reports that a Spanish teenager was recently hospitalised allegedly after participating in the Blue Whale challenge.
If you are contemplating suicide, RT UK urges you to seek help from one of the following services:
Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you’d prefer to write how you are feeling, or are worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected]
Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organization supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.
Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.