So what’s the deal with the shadowy Blue Whale “suicide challenge” that can apparently brainwash a young ‘gamer’ into killing themselves? It is said that this “game” can reach a young teenager on social media sites if they endorse certain hashtags and get involved in some groups. When the player signs up for the game, she or he is assigned an administrator who provides them with a daily task to complete for 50 days, of which they must send photographic proof of completion. These tasks are initially simple enough, such as watching a horror movie or waking up at odd times but eventually they are told to inflict harm upon themselves. But on the 50th and final day, they are asked to kill themselves. Those who get cold feet are threatened that the administrator possesses all their information and would bring harm to them or their loved ones. The claim is that the “Blue Whale” game has been responsible for more than 130 suicides in Russia. Many yougsters have died playing this game in the U.S. amongst them were Indians, Pakistani’s, Chinese, Russian, Americans, etc.
These daily tasks start off easy — such as listening to certain genres of music, waking up at odd hours, watching a horror movie, amongst many others, and then slowly escalates to carving out shapes on one’s skin, self-mutilation and eventually suicide.
There is still uncertainty over how a participant plays the game. While some say the user has to install some app on their smart phone, others say it’s via social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook where the administrators get in touch with the participant after those interested throw out postings on social media asking for a “curator”. A number of different hashtags— #bluewhalechallenge, #curatorfindme, #iamwhale — act as signals for the anonymous curators.
It must be noted, however, that there still is no confirmation of the existence of the game, and suicides linked to it are from personal accounts of families/friends of those deceased who claim they have seen their loved ones performing tasks. While reports of suicides linked to the game have surfaced across the globe, authorities claim that the origin appears to be in Russia.
Schools, as well as police officials in Europe and America have begun issuing advisories to parents urging them to be vigilant and to keep an eye out on what their children are sharing on their social media accounts.
Most teenagers (and adults) of sound mind with a supportive network at home and at school, are unlikely to stumble upon this “game” or be brainwashed by it. The problem they thrive on is one of vulnerability to self-harming behaviour and suicidal thoughts among emotionally-or-socially marginalised adolescents — which sadly is a trans-border phenomenon.
The situation of youth around the globe is well reflected in the book named “Udaas Naslain” by Abdullah Hussain (late) where he articulated his thought skilfully about the metal health and well-being of our young generation. The current and next generations are the descendants of virtual war era, the damage of which is less realized. Teenager’s exposure to unnecessary information has made it even more challenging.
The hysteria surrounding the Blue Whale “suicide game” needs to be re-focused on issues of adolescent depression that invite it. Addressing the root causes of vulnerability of young adolescents and talking to them about such harmful groups and what they contain is perhaps a better defence against the Blue Whale game and co, rather than getting caught a panic of half-baked sensational reports. Teenagers and students need to know how to support each other and whom to unconditionally turn for help when concerned.
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