Warning: The content in this post is graphic in nature, deals with suicide, and can be upsetting to some. If your teen or someone they know may be depressed or having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for information and resources.
On July 11, 2017, The Washington Post reported the first two teen deaths related to the Blue Whale challenge in the US: 15-year-old Isaiah Gonzalez from San Antonio, TX, and an unidentified 16-year-old girl from Atlanta.
The newspaper also reports, hashtags including #bluewhalechallenge, #curatorfindme, and #i_am_whale are being used by teens to find “curators” to guide them through the 50-day challenge.
A new “game” is reportedly making the rounds online and having deadly consequences for teens and tweens who play — though we still don’t know the truth behind the unconfirmed reports.
Known as the Blue Whale suicide game, this online challenge is simply horrific. It encourages young participants to complete specific tasks over the course of 50 days, and the challenges range from waking up during the night to cutting shapes into their skin. According to some reports, the “curators'” target players range from 10 to 14 years old and require that they send photos back as proof as they complete each step. On the final day of the challenge, kids are reportedly prompted to kill themselves.
Investigators in Russia believe this social media trend is linked to the death of 130 teens, and police in Britain are issuing warnings among fears that the trend is spreading globally. According to reports, the 11th step involves carving a whale into their skin and should serve as a major sign to parents.
According to Essex Live, some school administrators in the UK are reaching out to parents about the challenge. “The administrator of the challenge picks on vulnerable children and adults,” Chelmsford County High School for Girls assistant headteacher, Maria French, wrote in a letter to parents.
David Wright, deputy headteacher at Woodlands School, has notified the parents of his students, writing:
We have discovered a game through the police that we feel you should be aware of it. As you already know from my previous letters, we have a duty of care for our pupils and are striving to do all we can to ensure that you are given the latest information to help safeguard our young people. It is called The Blue Whale Game and is played via many social media platforms. Players are given a master who controls them for 50 days and each day they are given a task to complete. One task might be to wake up in the middle of the night and they steadily escalate with another take being for them to scratch a blue whale somewhere on their body. On the 50th day the masters behind the game instruct the young people to commit suicide and sadly across the world some have done this.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, reach out to Suicide.org for information and hotline numbers.