What is the Blue Whale Challenge? Beware of this deadly internet game
A 14-year-old's suicide in Mumbai is being speculated as the first instance of death due to an online suicide game in India. Blue Whale Game or Blue Whale Challenge is giving nightmares to parents across the globe. What makes this game so deadly? How does a mere game convince a person to take their own lives? Experts believe that the answer lies in lifestyle and lack of positive human interaction.
What is the Blue Whale Game
Blue Whale is an internet game that prompts its users to undertake several challenges, ultimately daring them to kill themselves. Once you become a challenger or user, the game and its administrators give you a series of tasks to complete. One task is given per day for a period of 50 days. The first few tasks seem harmless and fun but as days pass by, the 'challenges' push the user to self-mutilation and ultimately death.
What starts as 'task' to stuff your mouth with mashmellow, slowly graduates to waking up at odd hours, watching horror and gory movies, climbing up a crane, walking on the roof and ultimately jumping off the roof. In a total of 50 days, the game traps the user, makes him or her an addict and pushes them to take their own lives.
The very term 'Blue Whale' is in reference to a phenomenon of beached whales, linked to suicide. The administrator of the game lures the user to declare themselves Whales before indulging in self-harm and suicide.
Why are teenagers falling prey?
Psychiatrists believe that the game grooms its users to commit suicide. It is designed to lure them step by step to take their own lives but what really is the trigger, is the user's personality and mental state.
"There are three stages in which a person loses touch with reality. Engagement is the first where they indulge in online activity. The second stage is Engrossment, where we take too much interest in the virtual world and lose touch with reality off and on. Immersion is the last step, meaning total loss of self-awareness and environmental awareness. The person is so immersed in the game that they only respond to virtual cues. Depending on the kind of personality trait they have and their current mental state, children respond to the cues negatively or positively," said Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, a Psychiatrist
A global online threat
Blue Whale is said to have been designed by Philipp Budeikin, a psychology student. When he was convicted, he told the court that he invented the game to 'clean the society' and get rid of first people he deemed 'biological waste'. Blue Whale was launched in 2013 in Russia and claimed its first victim in 2015. It went live on VKontakte social network. Budeikin pleaded guilty to inciting at least 16 teenage girls to commit suicide.
Across the globe, teenagers have been victims of Blue Whale. Cases have been reported from Argentina, Brazil, Russia, China, Pakistan, Chile, Italy and even the United States where parents complained of their children being addicted to the game. Some of them, unfortunately, died while some were rescued in time.
How family, parents and friends can help
Look out for signs. Experts say that the first sign of a child being addicted is a lack of interest in all things real. "Attention deficit in everything apart from online and virtual things is the first clue. Unwilling to let go of their mobile phones, iPad or computers is the next clue. When children become irresponsive to human interaction, it is time to take corrective steps immediately, "Dr Manoj Sharma said.
Children, according to psychiatrists, resort to living in the virtual world when they believe that the real world has nothing fun to offer. It becomes the responsibility of those around the children to keep them constructively occupied to ensure that they do not heavily depend on the virtual world.
While the Mumbai police are yet to link the 14-year-old's death to the deadly online game, neighbours and friends are making references to how the class 9 student had spoken about it. If the Mumbai police are able to establish a link between the game and the death, this will become the first case of Blue Whale death in India.