EDITOR’S NOTE: Global News has not been able to independently verify the reports of suicides in Europe related to the “Blue Whale Challenge.”
“I want to play the game. Are you sure? There’s no way back.”
That is how the game begins. It’s a disturbing one and it’s called the “Blue Whale challenge.” It has teens completing a number of tasks over a 50-day period, the last one being to kill yourself. This is the newest twist to suicide pacts that are being shared among vulnerable teens online.
Just last month, authorities in France put out a public safety alert for parents to pay attention to warning signs if your child is acting strangely.
“I find that very disturbing. We know that youth is a time when we try to get our identity established and try to find our crowd of people,” family therapist Alyson Shafer said.
“But it becomes very worrisome when people who have behaviours that are dangerous find one another and support one another in activities that are not healthy.”
One of the tasks include self-mutilation – cutting your arm in the form of a whale – because of the belief that blue whales voluntarily wash up on beaches to die.
The deaths of 130 teenagers in Russia, including two young girls who fell to their deaths after jumping from an apartment building and from a commuter train, have been linked to the “Blue Whale” challenge. However, these reports have not been confirmed.
While Shafer was an early adopter of the Internet, she had a warning.
“I think in the advent of social media, people are now taking shots of themselves, posting things that become like taunting dares,” she said.
The Blue Whale challenge is not an open hashtag. It takes place underground where game masters send participants tasks that include watching horror movies, sitting on the edge of a roof with your feet dangling, going to the railway and climbing on a crane.
“That pressure to one up, around something that is risky behaviour. The teen brain, just so you know, is wired to take risks at this time” Shafer said, adding adolescents can be naive and may think they’re invincible.