What parents and children need to know on Blue Whale

The game played across social media platforms involves tasks including visiting cemeteries at odd hours, watching horror videos, etching on body parts and submitting evidence

Photo courtesy: Twitter 
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Supriya Nidhi

The Blue Whale Game, also known as the Blue Whale challenge is an internet game which has claimed 130 lives of teenagers in Russia, has made its way to India.

As it poses life-threatening challenges to the young players of impressionable age, the game which is played on computers and smartphones, has been dubbed as the “suicide game” as the final task dares the player to commit suicidal acts.

On Wednesday, a PIL was filed before the Delhi High Court against the game seeking directions to internet companies to take down the links to ‘Blue Whale’.

The fatal game has also been linked to other rising, self-harm trends, such as “human embroidery” in China. The term “Blue Whale” comes from the phenomenon of beached whales, which is linked to suicide.

Here is what you need to know about the game:

Cases reported from India so far

  • On 26 July 2017, Manoj C reportedly committed suicide in Kerala while participating in the game online. The 16-year-old boy was found hanging at his home. He committed suicide after deleting all other games from his mobile phone, according to his mother. Acknowledging that her son had informed her about playing the fatal game, she said she had tried to dissuade her in vain. She also confided that her son had told her not to worry if he died early. He would also visit cemeteries during night and go to the beach alone.
  • On July 30, a 14-year-old boy committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor of a building in Mumbai. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis blamed the suicide on the Blue Whale game.
  • On August 10, a class VII student in Indore was pulled away by a group of students just before he was to take a suicidal leap from the third floor of the Chameli Devi Public School. The boy apparently recorded the entire 50 stages of the game, in his school diary.
  • On August 10, a 14-year-old boy on the way to finish the Blue Whale challenge was rescued by the Maharashtra Police, who intercepted the bus in which he was traveling to Pune, from his home town of Solapur. After the boy went missing, his parents started enquiring with his friends when they came to know that he was playing the Blue Whale Challenge.
  • On August 12, a student from Anandpur allegedly committed suicide as a result of playing the game. His body was discovered in the bathroom, with his face covered with a plastic bag tied around his neck by a cotton cord.

What is the Blue Whale Game?

In this game, the administrator poses a series of challenges to the players who are required to meet them within 50 days. The final task asks them to take extreme steps. The player has to complete usually one task every day.

The list of tasks to be completed in 50 days includes self-mutilation, waking up at 4:20 am, climbing a crane, carving a specific phrase on the person’s own hand or arm, doing secret tasks, and watching videos sent to the challengers by the administrator. One of the tasks assigned to the players also involves watching horror videos sent to them by promoters of the game and visiting cemeteries and solitary places at odd hours.

Players are expected to take photos of themselves undertaking the challenge and upload them as proof for the admin’s approval. The last challenge often is to commit suicide.

Who devised the game? What’s its origin ?

A Russian psychology student Philipp Budeikin, expelled from his university, had claimed to have invented the game. Budeikin stated that his purpose was to “clean” the society by pushing to suicide those he deemed as mentally weak and with no mind of their own. At the trial that apparently led to his imprisonment, he is said to have described the victims as “biological waste".

The 22-year-old pleaded guilty to “inciting at least 16 teenage girls to commit suicide”, leading to a Russian suicide prevention legislation.

Can the game be downloaded ?

Apparently , not. It is a social media phenomenon which enters networks from secretive groups. Users might download an Android Package Kit (APK) sent by an administrator.

Government’s response to the deadly game

The Delhi High Court expressed concern over children allegedly committing suicide while playing the game. On Wednesday, a PIL was filed before the Delhi High Court by advocate Gurmeet Singh seeking directions to internet companies to take down the links to ‘Blue Whale’.

The Chief Justice of India JS Khehar also drew parallel between the psychological angle involved in the alleged love jihad and the cases of suicide of children playing the Blue Whale Challenge.

On August 11, the Ministry of Electronics and IT directed the internet giants – Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Yahoo – to immediately remove the links of the game.

What parents can do?

Experts believe the ideal way for parents to keep children away from games like Blue Whale and other hazardous temptations is to invest more time with teenagers. They are also advised to keep a close watch on what their children do on their social media sites and the internet. Talking to them about such dangerous groups and what harm they can cause is also recommended.

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