Where is 'Blue Whale'? No concrete evidence so far that the game exists
Ever since the first purported case of Blue Whale Game suicide emerged from Mumbai's Andheri, multiple cases of suicides and self-harm have been reported across the country.
Despite the jump in the number of incidents, claiming to be a result of the Blue Whale Challenge, investigations have not been able to establish a definite link between suicides and the supposed deadly Blue Whale Challenge. Cyber experts, for this very reason, believe, that there is an urgent need to research into the matter.
Andheri, Mumbai: No evidence of teenager playing Blue Whale game
It has been more than a month since a 14-year-old boy jumped to his death from the terrace of his seventh-floor building. While the case of suicide made headlines after touted as the first case of Blue Whale Challenge death in India, officials have found nothing to prove the claim so far. "It is not established. We are waiting for forensic reports to confirm the same. Prima facie we have found no connection to the game but we will await forensic tests," Naveen Reddy, DCP, Andheri East told OneIndia.
Investigating officers also highlighted how the parents of the deceased teenager complained of no such game. While he was a huge fan of video games, the 14-year-old from Mumbai, according to the parents, played no such suicide game. In fact, in a statement to the police, the teenager's parents claimed that he may have committed suicide due to personal reasons.
No link to two deaths in Kerala
The cyber wing of the Kerala police did a thorough analysis to find out if two deaths, one of a teenager and another of a 22-year-old man, had any links to the Blue Whale Challenge as his family had claimed. Special cyber teams scrutinized not just the victim's phones and computers but also the internet looking for some clues on the Blue Whale Game or a similar death game. They have not succeeded in finding anything so far.
"In both cases, there has been no evidence to prove that the deceased were playing Blue Whale game. Moreover, the online game requires some kind of communication to receive instructions and send proof, in the form of photographs when a task is completed. A thorough investigation into the mobile phones and computers of the victims have not thrown up any such activities," said Manoj Abraham, Inspector General of Police, Thiruvananthapuram and Nodal Officer, Cyber Dome, Kerala Police.
He also highlighted a peculiar feature of all purported cases of Blue Whale deaths. "The internet is a place accessible to all. If a link can be found by a child, it can be found by an adult too. There is no possibility of a teenager being able to access a specific game or link that an adult, including cyber experts from our own team, can't. We have found nothing of that sort. I will not say that it does not exist at all but we have found no proof of its existence despite searching thoroughly. One cannot rule out the possibility of depressed children using Blue Whale Challenge as an excuse for self-harm," he added.
The officer added how frequent news reports about Blue Whale game has led to a rise in its popularity and many students are faking to be players. "We recently approached a student after he posted on Facebook that he was playing the Blue Whale game. He posted a picture of a Blue Whale on his arm and claimed that he was soon going to commit suicide to complete the challenge. When we began talking to him, he told us that he was faking it to become popular among his friends. It is a dangerous trend," the senior police officer added.
The first case of a 'Blue Whale' from Tamil Nadu
Vignesh, a teenager from Tamil Nadu was found hanging at his residence earlier this month. The family, as well as the police, is convinced that his is a clear case of Blue Whale Suicide because he had an impression of a Blue Whale on his left forearm. Vignesh had also left a suicide note about playing the Blue Whale game. The case prompted the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court to take up a suo moto case in this regard.
While the investigation in only in the primary stage, no links to the game have been established so far as well. The police are yet to access the victim's itemised bill, internet activity log, details of Whatsapp group etc. While they maintain that Vignesh's was a clear case of Blue Whale Game suicide, no evidence has been uncovered to back the claims.
The trend is worrying with more and more cases of purported Blue Whale Game suicide and self-harm being reported across the country. But how many of them are really the result of a game and if they are, what is the way forward seems to be the question that is giving parents, educators, investigative authorities as well as cyber experts the nightmare.