The Blue Whale Challenge game is afoot – except, this time, it is not a game

The Blue Whale Challenge has claimed yet another life. Before you lose someone close to you, learn about the Blue Whale Challenge and what you can do to save someone.

What is the Blue Whale Challenge?

- The Blue Whale Challenge is not an app, game or software that can be downloaded.

- It is present on social media and offered by secret groups

- The challenge originated in Russia, and there are multiple alleged creators

- One of them is thought to be Philipp Budeikin, a psychology student who was expelled from university

- Budeikin claims he created the game to cleanse the world of “biological waste” - people that, he believes, are no good

- Budeikin was arrested for ‘aiding’ the suicides of multiple girls

How does it work?

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- The Blue Whale Challenge targets teenagers or those with histories of destructive, depressive searches

- The introduction pans out on social media such as Instagram, Whatsapp, online forums, etc.

- Once contact is made, a curator tells the ‘player’ that they cannot talk about the game or the tasks to anyone, and that they cannot leave

- ‘Players’ are warned that ‘they’ will come after them if any attempt to stop is made

- Then the curator gives the player the first of 50 tasks.

- This could be as simple as listening to a song, or more destructive such as carving out something on their arms

- Tasks include, but are not limited to, carving the whale symbol on their arm, waking up at 4.20 am, standing on a building, etc

- Each time a participant finishes a task, they are supposed to upload a photographic or video evidence of the completed task in order to get the next one

- The admins or curators know when the images are doctored and cease to respond immediately

- The 50th task is suicide.

Why are children so drawn to it?

- According to psychologists, the challenge gives a sense of purpose and achievement to teenagers and young adults who are already in the throes of depression

- Teens have a naturally rebellious nature and look for stimuli like these to handle angst

- The buzz around Blue Whale makes it attractive enough for teens to want to check it out

- A number of children don’t even know they are depressed, and the sense of achievement in Blue Whale gives them something to look forward to

The scenario so far

- So far 8 children in India have committed suicide

- The average age of the victims is around 14-16 years

- The latest in the slew of suicides is a 19-year old who left a suicide note blaming Blue Whale for his suicide

What you can do as a parent

  • Keep an eye on your child - watch out for listless behaviour or anything that you feel is out of the ordinary

  • Trust your instinct - if you think something is wrong, something probably is

  • Also keep an eye on your child’s body - look out for any bruising, cuts, carvings or any sign that they may have drawn blood. Usual scrapes are fine, but if you see any unusual cuts, be more alert

  • At the same time, don’t be paranoid - it will only add to their frustration

  • Keep a close eye on your child’s online presence. This means supervised internet and mobile phone usage

  • Talk to your children. It doesn’t have to be anything specific, but just make sure you are spending time with them.

  • Don’t get aggressive - the more you push them, the farther they will go away from you.

  • If required, take your child for counselling. A doctor will be in a far better position to judge depression than a parent. Remember, there is no shame in counselling, and a stitch in time saves nine - the faster you do it, the greater help your child will get

  • If you think your child is playing the Blue Whale challenge, revoke all internet access

  • Refer this document from the Unicef to know more about how you can help your child

Feature Image Source: Indian Express