- Rumoured deadly suicide game originated in Russia
- Russia has not been able to confirm that the game is linked to 130 teen deaths
- There have been no reports of the game being played or existing outside of Russia
- One Argentinian teenaged boy who claimed he was playing Blue Whale took his own life
What Is The Blue Whale Game?
It’s described as a game, but the Blue Whale Challenge is far from a game. Young teens who accept the challenge are encouraged to complete a series of tasks which get more and more sinister and at the end of the game the player is urged to take their own life in order to “win.”
The Blue Whale suicide game goes by many names including ‘A Silent House,’ ‘A Sea Of Whales’ and ‘Wake Me Up At 4:20am.’ It takes 50 days to complete and is played primarily via the website VKontakte, which is a popular social network in Russia. It gets its name from a common belief that blue whales voluntarily beach themselves in order to end their own lives.
The game is attracting teens as young as 12-years-old in Russia and Central Asian countries but recent reports suggest the game could be spreading across Europe and into the UK. The game has been blamed by the Russian media as the reason why 80 to 130 children committed suicide between November 2015 and April 2016.
Has Blue Whale Resulted In The Death Of 130 Russian Teens?
At the end of 2015, a 17-year-old Russian girl named, Rina Palenkova posted this selfie online moments before jumping in front of an oncoming train. The train driver saw Rina and desperately tried to stop the train but he couldn’t and Rina was killed by the impact.
As well as posting the haunting photos, the teen also left a message on her social media accounts, simply saying “goodbye.”
Since her suicide several online communities and death groups, including ‘Sea of Whales’ have been sharing Rina’s photos and claiming that she was part of their internet suicide groups, but her death has not been officially linked to any specific online group.
However, a more sinister double-suicide early in 2017 has been linked directly to Blue Whale. Yulia Konstantinova, 15 and Nika Volkova, 16 took their lives together by jumping from a 14-storey building. Shortly before her death Yulia posted a photo of a blue whale on Instagram and changed her VK status to “end.” Nika also left a similar message on her VK profile, “sense is lost… End.”
Blue Whale and similar games have been linked to at least 80 of 130 recent teen suicides by Russian media but no concrete links between any of these deaths have been confirmed by police.
“We counted 130 suicides in children that occurred in Russia from November 2015 to April 2016. Almost all of them were members of the same group on the Internet.”
While 130 teens might have been members of the same group, this doesn’t mean for certain that the group or its admins encouraged any of them to take their lives, especially when you take into consideration that Russia has a high baseline suicide rate among young people. 461 minors took their own lives in 2013, for example.
Although Blue Whale has not been found to have directly caused a rise in teens taking their own lives, so called “death groups,” that promote suicide are real and are a big problem, especially in Russia.
These groups encourage children to commit suicide by convincing them that they are “fat” or “losers” in this world, however they tell them that there is is another world and there they will be among the chosen ones.
In November 2016, a 21-year-old administrator of a VK group was arrested and charged with persuading teens to commit suicide. Filipp Budeikin, who went by the name “Filipp the Fox” online, is believed to be at least partially responsible for the deaths of around 15 minors.
Around the world, police have started to warn parents about the dangers of these online “death groups” and suicide games. Police forces in Belgium and France have started spreading the word and in the UK the Devon and Cornwall Police recently tweeted, “who ever created this horrible game is sick! Parents: Please be aware of this ‘game’ talk to your children about it if concerned.”
Complete List Of Blue Whale Challenges
A Reddit user posted a completed list of tasks which were supposedly posted in a comment on a story about the game on a Russian news website. The list of 50 challenges has been translated from Russian.
1. Carve with a razor “f57” on your hand, send a photo to the curator.
2. Wake up at 4.20 a.m. and watch psychedelic and scary videos that curator sends you.
3. Cut your arm with a razor along your veins, but not too deep, only 3 cuts, send a photo to the curator.
4. Draw a whale on a sheet of paper, send a photo to curator.
5. If you are ready to “become a whale”, carve “YES” on your leg. If not, cut yourself many times (punish yourself).
6. Task with a cipher.
7. Carve “f40” on your hand, send a photo to curator.
8. Type “#i_am_whale” in your VKontakte status.
9. You have to overcome your fear.
10. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to a roof (the higher the better)
11. Carve a whale on your hand with a razor, send a photo to curator.
12. Watch psychedelic and horror videos all day.
13. Listen to music that “they” (curators) send you.
14. Cut your lip.
15. Poke your hand with a needle many times
16. Do something painful to yourself, make yourself sick.
17. Go to the highest roof you can find, stand on 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 it
20. The curator checks if you are trustworthy.
21. Have a talk “with a whale” (with another player like you or with a curator) in Skype.
22. Go to a roof and sit on the edge with your legs dangling.
23. Another task with a cipher.
24. Secret task.
25. Have a meeting with a “whale.”
26. The curator tells you the date of your death and you have to accept it.
27. 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 day.
29. Make a vow that “you’re a whale.”
30-49. Everyday you wake up at 4:20am, watch horror videos, listen to music that “they” send you, make 1 cut on your body per day, talk “to a whale.”
50. Jump off a high building. Take your life.
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 I lonely?’ They are the best targets for such games that look out for vulnerable teens who seek acceptance, acknowledgement and attention from peers.” Leading ahead in such games that dares you with tasks offers a boost to self-esteem and sends positive strokes. And in that adrenaline rush, they forget that it’s coming at the cost of their lives.
The teenage brain can be complex and confusing. Neuroscientist and author Dr Frances Jensen writes in her book ‘The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults’, teenage brain has 80 per cent structure and function of the adult brain. She compared teenage brain to a driver who can drive a car but does not yet know how to use the brakes to stop it.
Dr Seema shares, “Many teens come to me complaining about loneliness. They complain their parents are too busy for them and they have no friends. I recently had a 16-year-old come to me complaining he doesn’t want to live because no one likes him. These are the same kids who are searching ‘painless deaths’ on Google. They go to suicide forums. This makes it extremely crucial for the parents to pay attention to their kids.”
What parents can do
Online is a medium frequented by teens and anonymity increases the chances of experimentation. Moreover, it is easy access without supervision that makes it dangerous and alluring at the same time.
Dr Seema shares:
Parents need to keep talking to the kids. Take interest in your child’s activities.
Give them space to share their feelings without negating them.
Never reprimand your teen for whining, crying or staying aloof. Try to find out the reason behind unnatural behavior. For example, a disturbed stomach could be a sign of anxiety.
Talk to your child for 20 minutes every day without interrupting them. This will help you read trouble signs – are they being bullied, body shamed or going through academic decline?
Monitor their digital behaviour and subtly keep an eye on their internet activity. It is extremely important.