- Children around the world in the grip of an online exploitative game called The Blue Whale Challenge
- Originating in Russia in 2013, the game is rumored to have claimed more than 100 lives worldwide
- The Russian game has a 50 day challenge, which ultimately ends with suicide.
August 3, 2017 : Rina Palenkova (Russia) was 17 in November 2015 when she posted goodbye selfie moments before committing suicide. In December 2015, Vilena Piven (Ukraine) was 15 when she jumped off a 13 floor building. More recently, Isaiah Gonzalez from Texas was only 15 when he filmed his own suicide. These and many more children are victims of a sick mind-manipulation game, The Blue Whale Challenge.
“Yes I was truly doing that. Don’t worry, you’ll understand everything. Everybody will understand”, were the words of 22 year old Phillip Budeikin, the creator of the nihilist menace currently engulfing people all over the world.
What is The Blue Whale Challenge?
Budeikin’s Blue Whale Challenge can be described as an obscure online phenomenon that began in 2013, that makes use of hideous mind exploitation and assigns participants 50 bizarre and eventually mortal tasks that they must perform.
The tasks include tweeting that you are a blue whale using a hashtag while a different task asked a participant to cut an arm three times, and range between standard and self-mutilating psychopathy.
In June this year, as reported by Daily Mail, Russian investigators said a 26-year old postman from Moscow, Ilya Sodorov had confessed of being an administrator (curator) and revealed that participants used to update him about their daily progress.
According to Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, suicides of 130 Russian children between November 2015 and April 2016 have been linked to this lethal game. However, officials are yet to find physical evidence to support this hypothesis.
In an interview in Russia with Saint Petersburg News in May, Budeikin, nicknamed Philip Lis (Fox) accepted to intentionally pushing teenagers to suicide.
“There are people- and there is biological waste, those who do not represent any value for society. Who cause, or will cause, only harm to the society”, Budeikin said, saying that he was only ‘cleaning’ the society.
However, he refuted claims that his game was directly responsible for 130 deaths in Russia, stating that he had only directly influenced 17 suicides. He said the others had communicated with him, and committed suicide later, however without any direct influence from him. Chillingly, he added that there still were 28 people who were willing to take their lives.
“They were dying happy. I was giving them what they didn’t have: warmth, understanding, connections”, he said.
Though the scope and scale of the Blue Whale Challenge are yet to be confirmed, reports of suicide from different corners of the world are being linked to this online phenomenon, with the latest case coming from Mumbai where a teenager (14) is believed to have committed suicide following his alleged association with the game.
Budeikin has been sentenced to three years in prison this July.
However, Russian MP Irina Yarovaya has called for tougher penalties against Budeikin. She believes the law must catch up with abusive social media trends which threaten lives of young people, as reported by the Daily Mail.
The issue has caught mass attention with several national and international media outlets covering stories about it.
In May, public schools in Alabama warned parents of their children’s likely indulgence in the ‘game’. Meanwhile, police officers in Miami also released a video on Facebook, alerting parents of the Russian game’s warning signs. Lately, the issue has also been taken up by the Indian media.
Reports suggest parents keep a check on their children’s social media accounts and not bring up the subject, unless the child already knows about it.
In April this year, the Pink Whale Challenge came up to counter its evil brother, urging people over the internet to perform 50 happy tasks over a course of 50 days to prove “that the internet can be used to viralise the good.”
Some social media outlets like Instagram have also channeled efforts to curb the menace. If the words #BlueWhaleChallenge are searched, Instagram automatically pops a message encouraging the user to seek support.
How The Game Works
According to reports, the game holds its origins in the Russian social media platform VKontakte.com, where a person is supposed to download the app, create a profile and then share a public post expressing their interest to play the game.
In order for the curators to ‘find’ you, the post must have an exclusive selection of tags like,
#wakemeupat420, etc who then go through these profiles to prey upon targets, usually vulnerable 12-16 year olds.
The ‘game’ as they say, then begins.
The selected players are then contacted through personal chats by curators. In other words, no individual can willing play the game; all you can do is say you want to, and then wait if the curators pick you.
Budeikin’s Blue Whale Challenge is believed to have been inspired by the blue whale’s tendency to beach themselves on purpose before death. And the repetitive mentions of 4:20 signal to the marijuana culture.
While some tasks seem harmless like waking up at 4:20 am, meeting a ‘whale’ (can be a fellow player/administrator) and listen to music that has been sent to you, the game allegedly turns violent as the levels progress, with tasks including cutting your lips, cutting the shape of a blue whale/4:20/ some random code on your arm using a blade. The administrator assigns the next task only after the previous ones are proven with photographic evidence. If not, the player faces penalties.
While these may seem stupid to any mature person, young, impressionist children are suspected to be falling prey to the older administrators who threaten to kill or hurt their families and friends. These threats can seem rather real to a young teen or pre-teen, who is depressed or suicidal, which forces them to continue with the tasks. By the time they want to stop, the only way out appears to be through suicide, which is the final task for day 50.
Exposing the Real ‘Game’ called Blue Whale Challenge
While it is described as a game, the Blue Whale Challenge is far from being one. It is not an app and one cannot find it on Google Play Store. It cannot be downloaded through the computer, or played on an Xbox. Refuting popular belief, there is no website where you can sign up and land in the game.
So if it isn’t a game, then what is it?
We will recommend you view this as a phenomenon instead – a malicious tactic to establish contact and manipulate vulnerable children on social media, in the comments section of discussion forums and on shady websites.
The intention for such a nihilist act is difficult to interpret, it sure has psychopathic roots.
While there is no physical evidence as of now to link suicides from around the world to this game, what also needs to be understood here is that this ‘game’ is not taking lives. People hiding behind computer screens, who are merely making use of an established idea, are the ones who are to be blamed instead.
What You Can Do
As it is not a ‘game’ that can be uninstalled, the only way to avoid it is to not indulge in it. Kids must be advised to not interact with strangers on the internet, and to avoid revealing much of any sort of personal information on open mediums.
While it can also not be completely ridiculed, there are a few things you can do, assuming all this is not another over-hyped internet sensation,
- If you come across ‘suicide’ groups or communities on Facebook, where people are asking to be found by curators, report the group.
If you notice people tweeting #i_am_whale, #bluewhalechallenge or anything similar, do not hesitate to flag it ‘Abusive or Harmful’.
You can do the same on Instagram, where the game is beginning to witness some activity with kids posting pictures with similar captions.
Reaching out to these children can also be considered.
- Because the ‘herd-mentality’ never ceases to leave Indians alone, if you find yourself or somebody else curious to indulge in the game, simply DO NOT.
Seek help, instead.
— रोॐaa (@yinwoman) August 1, 2017
Additionally, you can also reach out to suicide prevention NGOs and help-lines given below. Because even when life hits you hard and seems exhausting, or for the sheer adrenaline rush, the risk is too huge to take.
Aasra : 91-22-27546669
Lifeline Foundation : 91-33-2474-4704/5886/5255
ROSHNI : 91-40-7904646
– by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter : @SohaKala
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