Introduction where none existed, and none of the

Introduction

Blue Whale (game)

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The Blue Whale Game also known as
“Blue Whale Challenge”, is a 21st-century social network phenomenon that is claimed to exist in several countries,
beginning in 2016. The game reportedly consists of a series of tasks assigned
to players by administrators over a 50-day period, with the final challenge
requiring the player to commit suicide.

“Blue
Whale” came to prominence in May 2016 through an article in a Russian
newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, that linked many unrelated child suicides to
membership of group “F57” on the Russian-based VKontakte
social network. A wave of moral panic swept Russia. However the piece was later
criticized for attempting to make a causal link where none existed, and none of
the suicides was found to be as a result of the group activities.

 

Addiction-Definition

Compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized
by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use
of a substance known by the user to be harmful.

Types of Addictions

Addictions to Substances

Impulse Control Disorders

List of Addictions – Behavioral

It has been suggested one of the
types of addictions is behavioral addiction. The following is a list of
behaviors that have been noted to be addictive:3

Food (eating)
Sex
Pornography (attaining,
viewing)
Using computers
/ the internet
Playing video games
Working
Exercising
Spiritual
obsession (as opposed to religious devotion)
Pain
(seeking)
Cutting
Shopping

 

Background of Blue Whale

Russian
journalist Galina Mursaliyeva first drew attention to “death groups”
similar to the blue whale game when she wrote an article published in the
Russian newspaper, Novaya
Gazeta in April
2016. The article described the death groups “F57” on the Russian
social media site VKontakte, that incited 130 teenagers to commit suicide. The name
origin of the name “Blue Whale” is uncertain. The game is said to run
on different social media platforms and is described as a relationship between
an administrator and participant. Over a period of fifty days the administrator
sets one task per day; the tasks seem innocuous to begin with (get up at 4:30
am, watch a horror movie), and move on to self harm leading to the participant
suiciding on the final day. Reports of the suicides connected to the game have
been reported worldwide.

Mursaliyeva’s
article was criticized at the time of its release for lacking in credible data
and balance. “The 130 cases of suicide cited in the article appeared to
be calculated by the author.”  No link between the game and any suicide has
been proven.

50 Tasks of Blue Whale game

1. Carve with a razor “f57” on your hand, and
send a photo as a proof to the manager.

2. You need to wake up at 4:20 AM and
watch psychedelic and scary videos which he sends you.

3. Cut your arm along the veins with a razor
but not in deep. Only 3 cuts should be made, then send a photo to the curator.

4. Draw a Picture of Whale on a paper and send
the photo to Curator.

5. If you are ready to “become a whale” carve
“YES” on your leg. If not punish yourself by cutting yourself many times.

6. A task with A cipher.

7. Carve “f40” on your hand and send the proof
to the manager.

8. In your VKontakte status type “#i_am_whale
(rus. #?_???).

9. Must overcome your fear.

10. Wake up at mid night 4:20 AM and go to the
roof top. As much as high it is.

11. Draw a whale on your hand with a razor and
send a photo.

12. All day must watch horror
and psychedelic videos.

13. They will send you the music and you must
listen to that.

14. Cut your lip.

15. With a needle poke your hands many times.

16. Make yourself sick by doing something
painful to yourself.

17. Go to the highest roof wherever you find
and stand at the edge the edge for some time.

18. Go to a bridge, stand on the edge.

19. Climb up a crane or at least try to do it

20. The curator checks if you are trustworthy

21. On Skype talk with a whale (with another
player like you or with a curator).

22. Go to a roof and sit on the edge with your
legs dangling

23. Another task with a cipher.

24. Secret task

25. Have a meeting with a “whale”

26. The curator tells you the date of your
death and you have to accept it

27. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to rails
(visit any railroad that you can find)

28. Don’t talk to anyone all day

29. Make a vow that “you’re a whale”

30-49. Everyday you wake up at 4:20 a.m, watch
horror videos, listen to music that “they” send you, make 1 cut on your body
per day, talk “to a whale.”

50. Jump off a high building. And kill
yourself.

Social concerns

While
many experts suggest “Blue Whale” was originally a sensationalized
hoax, they believe that it is likely that the phenomenon has led to instances
of imitative
self-harming
and copycat groups, leaving vulnerable children at risk of cyber bullying and online
shaming. As of
late 2017, reported participation in Blue Whale seems to be receding; however,
internet safety organisations across the world have reacted by giving general
advice to parents and educators on suicide prevention, mental health awareness,
and online safety in advance of the next incarnation of cyber bullying meme.

“People
join narratives to explain their experiences that are possibly why some
children have said they participated in the rumored challenge despite there
being no proof of its existence.”

—?Dr Achal Bhagat, Delhi
psychiatrist., BBC News India, September 19th 2017

Arrests

In
2016, Philipp Budeikin, a 21-year-old former psychology student who was expelled from his
university, claimed that he invented the game in 2013. He said his intention
was to cleanse society by pushing persons to suicide whom he deemed as
having no value. Although originally claiming innocence and stating he was
“just having fun”, Budeikin was arrested and held in Kresty Prison, St
Petersburg
and in May 2016 pled guilty to “inciting at least 16 teenage girls to
commit suicide.” He was later convicted on two counts of inciting suicide
of a minor.

 In June 2017, postman Ilya Sidorov was
arrested in Moscow, also accused of setting up a
“Blue Whale” group to encourage children to self-harm and ultimately
commit suicide. He claimed to have persuaded 32 children to join his group and
follow commands.

Reported cases

Various cases were reported all
around the world countries like Italy, Bulgaria, Iran have victims of blue whale game.

Bangladesh

Many
news reports have published on Bangladeshi media about attempted suicide
related with the game. A teenage girl committed suicide allegedly from the
addiction of the game in October, 2017. 
A Chittagong University student was arrested by the Bangladeshi police
for playing the game, although no case has been officially confirmed.

Brazil

Several
news reports have appeared on Brazilian media linking cases of child self-harm
and suicide with Blue Whale. Police have several ongoing investigations,
although as yet none has been officially confirmed. Altogether, eight Brazilian
states had cases of suicide and self-mutilation suspected to be connected with
the game.

Iran

In Isfahan two teenage girls attempted suicide
by jumping off a highway bridge on 21 October 2017. This was originally
reported as linked to Blue Whale but later reports from Jaam-e Jam confirmed these were not due to the game. In September
2017, the Iranian Minister
of Information and Communications Technology posted a message in his official Instagram account to warn
parents and teachers about the spread of the Blue Whale challenge among Iranian
teens.

India

Throughout
2017 media in India has reported several cases of child suicide, self-harm and
attempted suicide alleged to be a result of Blue Whale, although no case has
been officially confirmed. In August 2017, the Government of
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology requested
that several internet companies (including Google, Facebook,
and Yahoo) remove all links which direct users to the game. Some
commentators accused the government of creating a moral panic. Indian internet
watchdog the Centre for
Internet and Society
has accused the coverage of effectively spreading and advertising a
“game” for which there is little evidence. In India suicide was the
second most common form of death of children, according to a 2012 report. The
Supreme Court asked the Indian Central government to ban the game, following
which the government responded that since Blue Whale wasn’t an application, it
couldn’t be banned.

What makes kids so susceptible and vulnerable? 

Delhi-based Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Hospital explains,
“Teenagers are anyway undergoing internal struggle, facing questions like
‘Who am I?’ ‘Do people like me?’ ‘Do my friends find me good enough?’ ‘Am I
lonely?’ They are the best targets for such games that look out for vulnerable
teens who seek acceptance, acknowledgement and attention from peers.”
Leading ahead in such games that dares you with tasks offers a boost to self-esteem
and sends positive strokes. And in that adrenaline rush, they forget that it’s
coming at the cost of their lives.

Victims of Blue whale game in India

Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala: Manoj C Man, a 16-year-old from
Kerala, is the latest victim of the dangerous game as claimed by his mother.
The young boy was found hanging at his home on July 26. Earlier, the family
told the police that it was because of failed relationships and scoldings by
the boy’s mother. Three days ago, however, Man’s mother filed a fresh
complaint, saying the Blue Whale challenge could have led to his death.

South Zone IG Manoj Abraham
said, “The Blue Whale challenge involves a series of tasks, including
self-harm. The boy’s body should have wounds, inflicted as part of tasks.
However, the post-mortem report hasn’t indicated any such wound. Besides, in
Blue Whale, a player should jump to death. Here, the boy hanged himself. The
Blue Whale challenge is only a doubt of the family. We are looking into that
aspect and have seized his phone and computer.”

 

Mumbai: A 14-year-old boy jumped off from
the seventh floor of a building in Mumbai on July 26 evening is another
suspected case of Blue Whale suicide game. The deceased, Manpreet, was a class
nine student in a school in Andheri East. While locals said he played the Blue Whale game, the police said they are
checking Manpreet’s cellphone and computer to ascertain the same.

As per the forensic report, the
boy died due to external and internal injuruies. “He had a fractured forearm,
fracture pelvic region and enlarged liver,” the expert said. The boy suffered
several trauma injuries as a result of falling from the height. The police have
registered a case of accidental death.

 

West Midnapore, West
Bengal: Ankan
Dey, a 15-year-old teenager from West Midnapore, West Bengal, was the first
suspected Blue Whale victim in India. The teenager committed suicide in the
bathroom of his house on Saturday morning, August 12, according to reports.
While the police are probing if the teen played the Blue Whale challenge,
there were reports that Ankan was addicted to online games.

 

Solapur, Maharashtra: A 14-year-old Solapur boy
who left home to allegedly complete a task assigned to him in the Blue Whale
game was rescued by the police on August 10 on his way to Pune. The boy
appeared to be lost and silent at the time of rescue. “As soon as we were informed
by our counterparts in Solapur, we intercepted the bus and rescued the boy, who
was on his way to complete a task given by the Blue Whale Challenge game,” a
Bhigwan police station officer said. “The boy’s businessman father came to the
police station and took him home,” he added.

 

Indore, Madhya Pradesh: A 13-year-old was rescued by his
friends when he tried to jump off the third floor of his Indore school on
August 10. The boy is a student of class VII at Chamali Devi Public School
at Rajendra Nagar. “We think he was tense in the last couple of days, thinking
about committing suicide to accomplish the final 50th task of the game,”
Additional SP Rupesh Kumar Dwivedi said.

Advisory on “blue whale
challenge game”

Blue whale
game (The suicide game) is abetment to suicide. It is understood through
various internet reports that it is shared among secretive groups on social
media networks. The creators seek out their players/victims who are in
depression and send them an invitation to join. The basis of the challenge is
that an anonymous “group administrator,” otherwise known as “the curator,”
hands out 50 tasks to selected “players” that must be completed, documented and
posted during a 50-day period. Players of the challenge can’t stop playing once
they’ve started; they are blackmailed and cyber bullied into completing the
“game”.

Look
out for following Signs and symptoms:

1.     
Becoming
withdrawn from friends and family

2.     
Persistent
low mood and unhappiness

3.     
Child
seems to be worried that stops him from carrying out day to day tasks

4.     
Sudden
outbursts of anger directed at themselves or others

5.     
Loss
of interest in activities that they used to enjoy

6.     
Visible
marks like deep cuts or wounds on any part of the body of the child.

How
to protect your child from this game:

1.     
Check
in with your child, ask how things are going. Ask if there have been things
stressing them, or anything that has them worried. If your child is talking
about any level of distress, do not hesitate to ask them about changes in
mental health.

2.     
Unless
there is reason to believe your child already knows of or has played the game,
don’t discuss about the Blue Whale game. By doing so, you increase the chance
that your child will search for it on their own.

3.     
Monitor
your children’s online and social media activity to ensure they are not
engaging with this game.

4.     
Keep
your eyes open for:

1.      Unusually secretive behaviour,
mostly related to their online activity

2.      A sudden increase in the time they
spend online, especially social media

3.      They seem to change screens on their
device when approached

4.      They become withdrawn or angry,
after using the internet or sending text messages

5.      Their device suddenly has many new
phone numbers and email contacts

5.     
Install
a good cyber/mobile parenting software which helps them in monitoring your
children.

6.     
Parents
should take reports from child counsellor present in the school at regular
intervals.

7.     
If
you fear your child may be at risk, get professional help right away.

8.     
Remind
your child that you are there and will support them as they face life challenges.

 

Interventions

 

What Parents can do?

Online is a medium frequented by teens and anonymity
increases the chances of experimentation. Moreover, it is easy access without
supervision that makes it dangerous and alluring at the same time.

   Parents
need to keep talking to the kids. Take interest in your child’s activities.

Give them space to share their feelings without
negating them.

Never reprimand your teen for whining, crying or
staying aloof. Try to find out the reason behind unnatural behavior. For
example, a disturbed stomach could be a sign of anxiety.

1) Create the right
situation:

Make sure you both
have time to talk, the atmosphere is relaxed, and remember that this is a
conversation, not an interrogation.

2)Listen:
Avoid solely talking at them. Listen to their concerns and their experiences.

3)Acknowledge their
worries:
Dismissing their feelings will only shut down the conversation and make them
reluctant to talk about what’s bothering them.

4) Help them
practice ways of saying no:
Rehearsing with them ways to stand up to peer pressure and coming up with
alternatives for them will build their confidence.

5) Keep the
conversation going:
Let them know that they can always come to you if they have more worries, and
take an interest in how they get on saying “no”.

 

What
Children’s can do?

1)Say it with
confidence:
Be assertive. It’s your choice and you don’t have to do something which makes
you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

 

2)Try not to judge
them:
By respecting their choices, they should respect yours.

 

3)Spend time with
friends who can say ‘no’:
It takes confidence and courage to say no to your friends. Spend time with
other friends who also aren’t taking part.

 

4)Suggest something
else to do:
If you don’t feel comfortable doing what your friends are doing, suggest
something else to do.

 

What
Teachers can do?

 

Build
Awareness

Schools
are key drivers for spreading awareness and promoting the psychological
well-being of students. As teachers, you also play an important role in encouraging
open discussions about mental health.

 Look
Out for Warning Signs

You
need to ensure that you are trained to identify the early signs of emotional
difficulties and mental health problems in children. It is important to refer
children who have experienced a stressful event and are exhibiting behavioural
problems or signs of depression to the school counselor.

 

Interventions / Action taken by
Government

 

The Indian government has taken note of the deadly game
and recently directed internet majors Google, Facebook, Whatsapp,
Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo to erase its links. “Instances of
children committing suicide while Blue Whale Challenge have been reported in India…You are
hereby requested to ensure that any such link of this deadly game in its own
name or similar game is immediately removed from your platform,” the Ministry
of Electronics and IT has stated in a letter dated August 11 following
instructions from Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

 

Conclusions:

The
Blue Whale challenge is a wake-up call that emphasizes the important role that
all of us – teenagers, parents and teachers – have to play in preventing
further such tragedies. It also highlights the need for identifying the early
signs of mental illness and taking timely action for the treatment and rehabilitation
of those young people struggling with psychological difficulties.