The Blue Whale Challenge suicide game—which has claimed over 100 lives across the world so far—is now available under different names such as A Silent House, A Sea of Whales and Wake Me Up at 4:20 AM, according to a UNICEF advisory, which claims that there could be other similar games available on the Internet alternatively as well.
The advisory further stated that although the government has asked companies such as Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo to immediately take down any links leading to the deadly game, it remains unclear how these companies would make the game inaccessible.
“It is because this game is not publicly available and freely downloadable. It is a social media phenomenon where conversations about this take place secretively in closed social media groups. You can only be part of the game if an administrator contacts you and enlists you as a potential whale, or candidate,” it stated.
In India, the lethal game claimed another victim in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday night when a 13-year-old boy committed suicide by hanging himself at his home, another youth from Bengal was saved from the lethal game by his college friends, faculty and counsellors from the West Bengal Police on the same day.
The game that originated in Russia has caused over 100 deaths across the world. In India also, it has claimed the lives of over six children aged between 12 and 19 years so far. A similar number of children have harmed themselves while playing the deadly game and were only saved by timely intervention.
UNICEF India’s ASLI DOST #Staysafeonline campaign has released an advisory to parents and teachers to monitor their kids’ social media activity. The key takeaways from the advisory are as under:
What kind of challenges do the players face?
- Carve with a razor “f57” on your hand, send a photo to the curator.
- Wake up at 4.20 am and watch psychedelic and scary videos that the curator sends you.
- Cut your arm with a razor along your veins, but not too deep, only 3 cuts, send a photo to the curator.
- Draw a whale on a sheet of paper, send a photo to curator.
- If you are ready to “become a whale”, carve “YES” on your leg. If not– cut yourself many times (punish yourself)
- Task with a cipher.
- Carve “f40” on your hand, send a photo to curator.
- You have to overcome your fear.
- Wake up at 4:20 am and go to a roof (the higher the better)
- Carve a whale on your hand with a razor, send a photo to curator.
- Watch psychedelic and horror videos all day.
- Listen to music that “they” (curators) send you.
- Cut your lip.
- Poke your hand with a needle many times.
- Do something painful to yourself, make yourself sick. Go to the highest roof you can find, stand on the edge for some time.
- Go to a bridge, stand on the edge.
- Climb up a crane or at least try to do it.
- The curator checks if you are trustworthy.
- Have a talk “with a whale” (with another player like you or with a curator) on Skype.
- Go to a roof and sit on the edge with your legs dangling.
- The curator tells you the date of your death and you have to accept it.
- Wake up at 4:20 am and go to rails (visit any railroad that you can find)
- Don’t talk to anyone all day.
- Every day you wake up at 4:20 am.
- Watch horror videos.
- Listen to music that “they” send you.
- Make 1 cut on your body per day.
- Jump off a high building. Take your life.
- The government has directed Internet companies to ban the game. Should parents still be concerned?
What Parents Need to Know
- The Blue Whale challenge is an online game. The game is named so because sometimes whales beach themselves intentionally and die.
- In this game, an online administrator assigns tasks to its participants. The participants are given a period of 50 days to complete each task.
- The players are expected to take photos of them undertaking the challenge and upload them as proofs for the curator's approval.
- The last challenge is to commit suicide.
- Players of this game cannot stop playing because they are blackmailed and cyber bullied into completing the game.
- Where can children access this game?
- Blue Whale is not a freely downloadable game, application or software.
- Children cannot access it on their smartphones through app stores or on social media platforms like Facebook. It is shared among secretive groups on social media networks. The creators seek out their players/victims and send them an invitation to join.
- Tweens and teens (i.e. 12-19 years) the most vulnerable group of Social Media, are most prone to Blue Whale Challenge.
- Most child psychologists say when a child tends to stay by himself/herself, stops interacting with family and friends, often talks about running away from home or even death, or changes eating or sleeping habits must be immediately given special attention.
Here are a few tips on how you can keep your child safe online:
- Having correct information about an issue is extremely important. The media reports on this issue do not make it clear that the role of this game/challenge in the recent cases of suicide has not been verified yet.
- Make sure that your child has access to age appropriate online sites which do not promote unethical behaviour or violence.
- Always ensure that your child accesses Internet from a computer placed in the family space.
- Talk to your child more often. Explore the online world together and engage in interesting activities demonstrating ethical and safe online behaviour.
- Use parental controls on all the devices used by your child. Monitor the screen time and keep an eye on his/her online activities.
- Be a role model to your child. Be conscious of your own online activities.
- Talk to other parents, share concerns if any and discuss best ways to help your children.
- Keep yourself updated with recent internet phenomena.
- Observe your child’s behaviour closely. Be alert to any unusual changes like moodiness, less or no communication, lack of interest in studies and falling grades. If you notice any such changes, closely monitor his/her online activities, talk to school authorities or consult a child psychologist.
- If you find out that your child is already playing the Blue Whale Challenge, immediately stop him/her from using the internet from any devices.
- Inform your local police authority about what has happened and seek their advice on the next safety measures.
How can teachers help?
- Teachers need to keep an eye on falling grades and social behavior of the students.
- They need to monitor the behaviour of each and every child.
- They should look for anti-social behaviour, they should personally talk to such children who don’t interact with the other children much or are aloof.
- If they observe something that may seem suspicious or alarming, they should inform the school authorities immediately.
- Teachers should also ensure that children do not use any gadgets during school hours.
- They should ensure that children are sensitised about the pros and cons of the Internet from time to time.