IntroductionBlue Whale (game)The Blue Whale Game also known as”Blue Whale Challenge”, is a 21st-century social network phenomenon that is claimed to exist in several countries,beginning in 2016. The game reportedly consists of a series of tasks assignedto players by administrators over a 50-day period, with the final challengerequiring the player to commit suicide. “BlueWhale” came to prominence in May 2016 through an article in a Russiannewspaper, Novaya Gazeta, that linked many unrelated child suicides tomembership of group “F57” on the Russian-based VKontaktesocial network. A wave of moral panic swept Russia.
However the piece was latercriticized for attempting to make a causal link where none existed, and none ofthe suicides was found to be as a result of the group activities. Addiction-DefinitionCompulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterizedby tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive useof a substance known by the user to be harmful.Types of AddictionsAddictions to SubstancesImpulse Control DisordersList of Addictions – BehavioralIt has been suggested one of thetypes of addictions is behavioral addiction. The following is a list ofbehaviors that have been noted to be addictive:3 Food (eating) Sex Pornography (attaining, viewing) Using computers / the internet Playing video games Working Exercising Spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion) Pain (seeking) Cutting Shopping Background of Blue WhaleRussianjournalist Galina Mursaliyeva first drew attention to “death groups”similar to the blue whale game when she wrote an article published in theRussian newspaper, NovayaGazeta in April2016.
The article described the death groups “F57” on the Russiansocial media site VKontakte, that incited 130 teenagers to commit suicide. The nameorigin of the name “Blue Whale” is uncertain. The game is said to runon different social media platforms and is described as a relationship betweenan administrator and participant. Over a period of fifty days the administratorsets one task per day; the tasks seem innocuous to begin with (get up at 4:30am, watch a horror movie), and move on to self harm leading to the participantsuiciding on the final day.
Reports of the suicides connected to the game havebeen reported worldwide. Mursaliyeva’sarticle was criticized at the time of its release for lacking in credible dataand balance. “The 130 cases of suicide cited in the article appeared tobe calculated by the author.” No link between the game and any suicide hasbeen proven.
50 Tasks of Blue Whale game1. Carve with a razor “f57” on your hand, andsend a photo as a proof to the manager.2. You need to wake up at 4:20 AM andwatch psychedelic and scary videos which he sends you.3. Cut your arm along the veins with a razorbut not in deep. Only 3 cuts should be made, then send a photo to the curator.4.
Draw a Picture of Whale on a paper and sendthe photo to Curator.5. If you are ready to “become a whale” carve”YES” on your leg.
If not punish yourself by cutting yourself many times.6. A task with A cipher.7. Carve “f40” on your hand and send the proofto the manager.8. In your VKontakte status type “#i_am_whale(rus. #?_???).
9. Must overcome your fear.10. Wake up at mid night 4:20 AM and go to theroof top. As much as high it is.11.
Draw a whale on your hand with a razor andsend a photo.12. All day must watch horrorand psychedelic videos.13. They will send you the music and you mustlisten to that.14. Cut your lip.15.
With a needle poke your hands many times.16. Make yourself sick by doing somethingpainful to yourself.17.
Go to the highest roof wherever you findand stand at the edge the edge for some time.18. Go to a bridge, stand on the edge.19. Climb up a crane or at least try to do it20.
The curator checks if you are trustworthy21. On Skype talk with a whale (with anotherplayer like you or with a curator).22. Go to a roof and sit on the edge with yourlegs dangling23. Another task with a cipher.24.
Secret task25. Have a meeting with a “whale”26. The curator tells you the date of yourdeath and you have to accept it27. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to rails(visit any railroad that you can find)28. Don’t talk to anyone all day29. Make a vow that “you’re a whale”30-49.
Everyday you wake up at 4:20 a.m, watchhorror videos, listen to music that “they” send you, make 1 cut on your bodyper day, talk “to a whale.”50. Jump off a high building. And killyourself.Social concernsWhilemany experts suggest “Blue Whale” was originally a sensationalizedhoax, they believe that it is likely that the phenomenon has led to instancesof imitativeself-harmingand copycat groups, leaving vulnerable children at risk of cyber bullying and onlineshaming.
As oflate 2017, reported participation in Blue Whale seems to be receding; however,internet safety organisations across the world have reacted by giving generaladvice to parents and educators on suicide prevention, mental health awareness,and online safety in advance of the next incarnation of cyber bullying meme. “Peoplejoin narratives to explain their experiences that are possibly why somechildren have said they participated in the rumored challenge despite therebeing no proof of its existence.” —?Dr Achal Bhagat, Delhipsychiatrist., BBC News India, September 19th 2017ArrestsIn2016, Philipp Budeikin, a 21-year-old former psychology student who was expelled from hisuniversity, claimed that he invented the game in 2013. He said his intentionwas to cleanse society by pushing persons to suicide whom he deemed ashaving no value. Although originally claiming innocence and stating he was”just having fun”, Budeikin was arrested and held in Kresty Prison, StPetersburgand in May 2016 pled guilty to “inciting at least 16 teenage girls tocommit suicide.
” He was later convicted on two counts of inciting suicideof a minor. In June 2017, postman Ilya Sidorov wasarrested in Moscow, also accused of setting up a”Blue Whale” group to encourage children to self-harm and ultimatelycommit suicide. He claimed to have persuaded 32 children to join his group andfollow commands. Reported casesVarious cases were reported allaround the world countries like Italy, Bulgaria, Iran have victims of blue whale game.BangladeshManynews reports have published on Bangladeshi media about attempted suiciderelated with the game. A teenage girl committed suicide allegedly from theaddiction of the game in October, 2017. A Chittagong University student was arrested by the Bangladeshi policefor playing the game, although no case has been officially confirmed.BrazilSeveralnews reports have appeared on Brazilian media linking cases of child self-harmand suicide with Blue Whale.
Police have several ongoing investigations,although as yet none has been officially confirmed. Altogether, eight Brazilianstates had cases of suicide and self-mutilation suspected to be connected withthe game. IranIn Isfahan two teenage girls attempted suicideby jumping off a highway bridge on 21 October 2017. This was originallyreported as linked to Blue Whale but later reports from Jaam-e Jam confirmed these were not due to the game. In September2017, the Iranian Ministerof Information and Communications Technology posted a message in his official Instagram account to warnparents and teachers about the spread of the Blue Whale challenge among Iranianteens. IndiaThroughout2017 media in India has reported several cases of child suicide, self-harm andattempted suicide alleged to be a result of Blue Whale, although no case hasbeen officially confirmed. In August 2017, the Government ofIndia’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology requestedthat several internet companies (including Google, Facebook,and Yahoo) remove all links which direct users to the game.
Somecommentators accused the government of creating a moral panic. Indian internetwatchdog the Centre forInternet and Societyhas accused the coverage of effectively spreading and advertising a”game” for which there is little evidence. In India suicide was thesecond most common form of death of children, according to a 2012 report. TheSupreme Court asked the Indian Central government to ban the game, followingwhich the government responded that since Blue Whale wasn’t an application, itcouldn’t be banned. What makes kids so susceptible and vulnerable? Delhi-based Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Hospital explains,”Teenagers are anyway undergoing internal struggle, facing questions like’Who am I?’ ‘Do people like me?’ ‘Do my friends find me good enough?’ ‘Am Ilonely?’ They are the best targets for such games that look out for vulnerableteens who seek acceptance, acknowledgement and attention from peers.”Leading ahead in such games that dares you with tasks offers a boost to self-esteemand sends positive strokes.
And in that adrenaline rush, they forget that it’scoming at the cost of their lives.Victims of Blue whale game in IndiaThiruvananthapuram, Kerala: Manoj C Man, a 16-year-old fromKerala, is the latest victim of the dangerous game as claimed by his mother.The young boy was found hanging at his home on July 26. Earlier, the familytold the police that it was because of failed relationships and scoldings bythe boy’s mother. Three days ago, however, Man’s mother filed a freshcomplaint, saying the Blue Whale challenge could have led to his death.South Zone IG Manoj Abrahamsaid, “The Blue Whale challenge involves a series of tasks, includingself-harm. The boy’s body should have wounds, inflicted as part of tasks.
However, the post-mortem report hasn’t indicated any such wound. Besides, inBlue Whale, a player should jump to death. Here, the boy hanged himself. TheBlue Whale challenge is only a doubt of the family. We are looking into thataspect and have seized his phone and computer.
” Mumbai: A 14-year-old boy jumped off fromthe seventh floor of a building in Mumbai on July 26 evening is anothersuspected case of Blue Whale suicide game. The deceased, Manpreet, was a classnine student in a school in Andheri East. While locals said he played the Blue Whale game, the police said they arechecking Manpreet’s cellphone and computer to ascertain the same.As per the forensic report, theboy died due to external and internal injuruies. “He had a fractured forearm,fracture pelvic region and enlarged liver,” the expert said. The boy sufferedseveral trauma injuries as a result of falling from the height.
The police haveregistered a case of accidental death. West Midnapore, WestBengal: AnkanDey, a 15-year-old teenager from West Midnapore, West Bengal, was the firstsuspected Blue Whale victim in India. The teenager committed suicide in thebathroom of his house on Saturday morning, August 12, according to reports.
While the police are probing if the teen played the Blue Whale challenge,there were reports that Ankan was addicted to online games. Solapur, Maharashtra: A 14-year-old Solapur boywho left home to allegedly complete a task assigned to him in the Blue Whalegame was rescued by the police on August 10 on his way to Pune. The boyappeared to be lost and silent at the time of rescue.
“As soon as we were informedby our counterparts in Solapur, we intercepted the bus and rescued the boy, whowas on his way to complete a task given by the Blue Whale Challenge game,” aBhigwan police station officer said. “The boy’s businessman father came to thepolice station and took him home,” he added. Indore, Madhya Pradesh: A 13-year-old was rescued by hisfriends when he tried to jump off the third floor of his Indore school onAugust 10.
The boy is a student of class VII at Chamali Devi Public Schoolat Rajendra Nagar. “We think he was tense in the last couple of days, thinkingabout committing suicide to accomplish the final 50th task of the game,”Additional SP Rupesh Kumar Dwivedi said.Advisory on “blue whalechallenge game”Blue whalegame (The suicide game) is abetment to suicide.
It is understood throughvarious internet reports that it is shared among secretive groups on socialmedia networks. The creators seek out their players/victims who are indepression and send them an invitation to join. The basis of the challenge isthat an anonymous “group administrator,” otherwise known as “the curator,”hands out 50 tasks to selected “players” that must be completed, documented andposted during a 50-day period. Players of the challenge can’t stop playing oncethey’ve started; they are blackmailed and cyber bullied into completing the”game”.
Lookout for following Signs and symptoms:1. Becomingwithdrawn from friends and family2. Persistentlow mood and unhappiness3.
Childseems to be worried that stops him from carrying out day to day tasks4. Suddenoutbursts of anger directed at themselves or others5. Lossof interest in activities that they used to enjoy6. Visiblemarks like deep cuts or wounds on any part of the body of the child.
Howto protect your child from this game:1. Checkin with your child, ask how things are going. Ask if there have been thingsstressing them, or anything that has them worried. If your child is talkingabout any level of distress, do not hesitate to ask them about changes inmental health.
2. Unlessthere is reason to believe your child already knows of or has played the game,don’t discuss about the Blue Whale game. By doing so, you increase the chancethat your child will search for it on their own.3. Monitoryour children’s online and social media activity to ensure they are notengaging with this game.
4. Keepyour eyes open for:1. Unusually secretive behaviour,mostly related to their online activity2. A sudden increase in the time theyspend online, especially social media3. They seem to change screens on theirdevice when approached4. They become withdrawn or angry,after using the internet or sending text messages5. Their device suddenly has many newphone numbers and email contacts5. Installa good cyber/mobile parenting software which helps them in monitoring yourchildren.
6. Parentsshould take reports from child counsellor present in the school at regularintervals.7. Ifyou fear your child may be at risk, get professional help right away.8. Remindyour child that you are there and will support them as they face life challenges. Interventions What Parents can do? Online is a medium frequented by teens and anonymityincreases the chances of experimentation.
Moreover, it is easy access withoutsupervision that makes it dangerous and alluring at the same time. Parentsneed to keep talking to the kids. Take interest in your child’s activities.Give them space to share their feelings withoutnegating them.Never reprimand your teen for whining, crying orstaying aloof. Try to find out the reason behind unnatural behavior. Forexample, a disturbed stomach could be a sign of anxiety.1) Create the rightsituation:Make sure you bothhave time to talk, the atmosphere is relaxed, and remember that this is aconversation, not an interrogation.
2)Listen:Avoid solely talking at them. Listen to their concerns and their experiences.3)Acknowledge theirworries:Dismissing their feelings will only shut down the conversation and make themreluctant to talk about what’s bothering them.4) Help thempractice ways of saying no:Rehearsing with them ways to stand up to peer pressure and coming up withalternatives for them will build their confidence.5) Keep theconversation going:Let them know that they can always come to you if they have more worries, andtake an interest in how they get on saying “no”. WhatChildren’s can do? 1)Say it withconfidence:Be assertive. It’s your choice and you don’t have to do something which makesyou feel unsafe or uncomfortable. 2)Try not to judgethem:By respecting their choices, they should respect yours.
3)Spend time withfriends who can say ‘no’:It takes confidence and courage to say no to your friends. Spend time withother friends who also aren’t taking part. 4)Suggest somethingelse to do:If you don’t feel comfortable doing what your friends are doing, suggestsomething else to do. WhatTeachers can do? Build AwarenessSchoolsare key drivers for spreading awareness and promoting the psychologicalwell-being of students. As teachers, you also play an important role in encouragingopen discussions about mental health.
Look Out for Warning SignsYouneed to ensure that you are trained to identify the early signs of emotionaldifficulties and mental health problems in children. It is important to referchildren who have experienced a stressful event and are exhibiting behaviouralproblems or signs of depression to the school counselor. Interventions / Action taken byGovernment The Indian government has taken note of the deadly gameand recently directed internet majors Google, Facebook, Whatsapp,Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo to erase its links. “Instances ofchildren committing suicide while Blue Whale Challenge have been reported in India…You arehereby requested to ensure that any such link of this deadly game in its ownname or similar game is immediately removed from your platform,” the Ministryof Electronics and IT has stated in a letter dated August 11 followinginstructions from Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Conclusions:TheBlue Whale challenge is a wake-up call that emphasizes the important role thatall of us – teenagers, parents and teachers – have to play in preventingfurther such tragedies.
It also highlights the need for identifying the earlysigns of mental illness and taking timely action for the treatment and rehabilitationof those young people struggling with psychological difficulties.