The Blue Whale challenge is an alleged ‘internet/social media game’ wherein the participants are given a series of tasks to complete over a period of time. The alleged final task is suicide. The game which is seemingly prevalent in many parts of the world is said to have originated from Russia.
The game asks its participants to perform 50 tasks, starting from mundane ones and culminating in taking one’s life. The participants are told to record all their tasks, which include waking up at odd hours, inflicting harm on one’s body, listening to psychedelic rock and so on. There is still no clarity as to how participants ‘play this game’. While some say it might be an app, there are rumours that it can be done via social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc. The game also allegedly involves carving out shapes on one’s skin and other forms of self-mutilation.
It is important to note that the presence of this ‘game’ has not been verified. However, the Moscow police recently arrested a young man who might be the ‘mastermind’ behind the game. The Telegraph reported that there has been nearly 32 teenager deaths due to the game.
The challenge has reportedly spread to countries including Spain, Portugal, Ukraine, Britain and France, according to The Telegraph. Amidst growing panic about the penetration of the game, there have been reports of teens committing suicide in the USA as part of the challenge.
Back home, a recent teen suicide case in Mumbai led to a rumour that the challenge might have found victims in India as well. Media reports surfaced that the boy’s final days may be due to him falling a prey to the game.
Pop culture references
The Blue Whale Challenge is the most recent social media phenomenon that has added fire to the outrage, following the release of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. The show that deals with a troubled teen and her reasons to commit suicide attracted extreme reactions. While a few thought that it was too stark for a teen show, there were others who felt it raised the much-needed awareness of the issue. In the United States, several TV shows, especially crime fiction ones, have story lines on social-media based games that drive teens to take the final step.
A quick Instagram search on #bluewhalechallenge reveals a page with a disclaimer about possible graphic content. Instagram also gives out contact details of those who can help in case of need. A search in Facebook results in display of details of a support group, after which news of the challenge follows.
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