The term ‘blue whale’ comes from the phenomenon of beached whales which is linked to suicide.
Origin of the Blue Whale Game
Philip Budeikin, a psychology student from Russia claims to have invented the blue whale game. Why? To play God and “cleanse society of those individuals who have no value”. The game Blue whale came to light in 2016 after a Russian journalist connected the dots that connected several unrelated suicide victims. Philip Budeikin was arrested and pled guilty to inciting at least 16 teenage girls to commit suicide. More than 130 deaths have happened because of this game.
The Blue Whale Game
The actual game is nothing short of online terrorism. The game consists of handlers who are actual people delegating and administering a series of tasks (or challenges) to victims through text, call or video. Some of these tasks extend to self-mutilation with a knife, needle or blade, standing on buildings, listening to music, watching snuff videos, etc. Do read how to play the blue whale game.
These tasks are usually completed within 50 days, usually one task per day with the final task requiring the participant to commit suicide. All the tasks are required to be taped. These recruiters use social platforms such as Facebook, Vkontakte, etc. to find participants. Most of the victims that have played or died from playing blue whale are within the 10 to 19-year-old age group.
It’s ‘Not a Game’
For most of who aren’t aware, blue whale isn’t a game that can just be banned by passing a bill of legislature. The Chief Minister of three States in India have asked the Center to ban the game. The game is structured on social interaction. That’s it. All one needs is a mobile phone, pc, tablet, some connectivity and low self-esteem. The handlers target gullible teens and pre teens, most of whom are either attention deprived, suicidal or mentally ill. Once a person starts doing tasks, the handlers gain access to personal information (pictures, videos, family data, etc.) and that is used to blackmail participants to finish the game.
The Past to the Present
In the 90’s, there were predatory ‘nurses’ on a website called alt.suicide.methods who would approach depressed and suicidal people and lure them into a video chat and convince them to commit suicide for their own amusement. This sick concept has now moved to newer methods of communication. The sci-fi web series ‘Black Mirror’ has covered these sort of incidents in a descriptive manner, combining blackmailing and hacking.
This is barely a fraction of the darker side of the dark net. But the blue whale game is a problem on the rise in several countries. Some of these include Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Georgia, Italy, Kenya, Paraguay, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and none other than Russia. As the attackers seek out new countries to attack, information and education may serve as the best solution.
The Blue Whale Game In India
So far, six suicides and three rescues have been linked to the blue whale game in India.
- On 30 July 2017, a 14- year-old boy jumped from the 7th floor of his building in Mumbai, although the Mumbai Police have stated that they haven’t yet found evidence linking the suicide to the game.
- On 10 Aug 2017, a 13-year-old boy was stopped from jumping off his school building in Indore, the final task. The 50 stages of the game were recorded in his school diary.
- On 10 Aug 2017, a 14-year-old boy was rescued by the Mumbai Police. He was traveling from Mumbai to Pune to complete one of the challenges of the game.
- On 12 Aug 2017, a 16-year-old boy committed suicide in his bathroom in West Bengal while playing the game. His face was covered with a plastic bag and tied with a cotton cord.
- On 16 Aug 2017, a 22-year old man committed suicide by hanging in Kerala. His family blames the blue whale game and the police are investigating the suicide.
- On 27 Aug 2017, a 13-year old boy committed suicide by hanging himself after playing Blue whale in Madhya Pradesh. The police stated that the boy had his father’s phone and on the phone was the direction to commit suicide after the 50 tasks were completed.
- On 30 Aug 2017, a 19-year old student in Tamil Nadu committed suicide by hanging. The Police stated that the victim had the self-inflicted drawing of a whale along with the letters blue whale carved on his arm. Upon examining the phone of the victim, the police found a Whatsapp group of 75 people actively playing the game in Madurai.
- On 3 Sept 2017, a 15-year old boy jumped in front of a running train after playing the blue whale game. The victim’s school friends said that the victim used to play the game and urged his friends to do so too.
- On 8 Sept 2017, a 22-year old man was saved right before he was about to attempt task 50. The victim, Alexander has stated that it is a virtual death trap. After he opened the link, he was given instructions to play the game.
In response to the number of suicides in India, the Government of India has asked tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to remove all links that direct users to the blue whale game.
Kids feel like they are playing a secretive adult game. A site in the United States has launched a campaign called the blue whale challenge, which gives participants 50 days of challenges that promote mental health and sanity. Similarly, a viral movement in Brazil called the pink whale was used to raise awareness. The media stressed that the blue whale phenomenon coincided with the show ’13 Reasons Why’ addressing the issue of teen suicide.
Note: If you see family, friends, colleagues, children or even adults exhibiting depressed behavior, please talk to them. And do much more than that.