Parents try to do a good job protecting their children from the dangers of the internet, but there’s a sinister virus spreading around the web that is taking the lives of teenagers around the globe, and no one can see it coming.
It usually starts by challenging a person with a fairly easy task, like watching a horror film. However, before long the person on the other side of the screen who is moderating this social media challenge takes a deadly turn and makes demands that no one should ever be subjected to…
Social Media Challenge
The Blue Whale Game is this social media challenge that is now spreading around the world causing pure shock and heartbreak, as well as unanswered questions in its wake. It is a monstrous online challenge that aims to press vulnerable young people into doing unimaginable things and as it makes more headlines, more kids want to know what it’s all about.
The vicious viral game has been spreading online via social media accounts and is being played by children as young as seven-years-old who have access to the internet. The game starts innocently enough, but then quickly coaxes youngsters into going down a dark path toward suicide…
Although it is unclear when and where exactly the Blue Whale game began, in July 2017, Sky News wrote that it started in Russia “several years ago.” Over the past few years, the game has spread like wildfire on the internet to Ukraine, Estonia, Brazil, Kenya, Argentina, the U.K. and the United States.
The game demands players start cutting themselves and etching images into their skin, threatening that something bad will happen to them if they don’t comply. However, it’s the final step that challenges the player with the worst threat someone hiding behind a keyboard could make…
To complete the Blue Whale game, the players much take their own life. As preposterous as this may sound, it is believed that the deadly social media challenge is already behind the deaths of 130 teenagers in Russia alone.
The name Blue Whale is interesting, as some people believe it is a reference to the way blue whales will occasionally beach themselves to end their suffering from injury, illness or a genetic mutation. However, sometimes group beachings will occur and just like the popular online challenge, experts cannot seem to figure out why…
Yet for an inquisitive mind looking to take part in a Blue Whale game, it can be a challenge in itself to find, even on the dark web. According to Sky News, Oleg Kapeav, a Russian teen, said he spent “several days” searching for a Blue Whale game to join before he was accepted into a challenge.
The Russian teen said that when he first began the challenge, he was unsure how to play and follow the moderator’s requests. Kapaev was also alarmed when the challenge took such a terrifying turn, with the group moderator asking players how they want to die. “They start psychologically manipulating you,” he added. “It is very professionally done. You become a bit of a zombie”…
After completing task after task, Kapaev said he was mentally exhausted and confused. That’s when the moderator told the teen he was a great “player” and would be “happier faster” if he jumped from a 20-story building in Moscow for his ninth and final task. And the young and naive teen was determined to follow through.
“I didn’t feel like I needed to kill myself, I felt I needed to complete the task,” Kapaev said to Sky News. “I only had this thought in my head – that I need to complete the task.” But this teen was one of the lucky ones with his parents paying close attention to his online behavior…
After seeing that their son booked a ticket to Moscow and reading a disturbing string of suicidal posts on his social media accounts, the teen’s parents immediately contacted authorities in the Russian capital. Thankfully, they were able find Kapaev before he took the final leap to his death.
Game of Death
“It’s not a game. It’s a game of death,” his mother Olga warned other parents. Unfortunately, not every parent has been so lucky to save their child from the Blue Whale game. Angela and Jorge Gonzalez of San Antonio, Texas, would never believe their 15-year-old son Isaiah would take part in something like this…
Isaiah Gonzalez’s parents said he showed no warning signs of sadness or depression, and that the teen they knew was cheerful and thoughtful. The 15-year-old had come from a good military family and shared his dreams of enlisting. “Every day, he was making everybody smile,” his mother told News 4 San Antonio.
Out Of Character
“[Blue Whale] talks about satanic stuff and stuff like that…My son was never into that,” Jorge Gonzalez said. “I think to him, it was a joke,” he said. “It wasn’t him trying to commit suicide. I don’t see him doing that.” Yet somehow Isaiah found himself involved and coaxed taking part in a Blue Whale challenge…
Isaiah completed the Blue Whale challenge in July 2017, taking his own life, when his family members found him dead on a Sunday morning. The 15-year-old had committed suicide in a live-stream video on Facebook. “Next to the teen they found a cell phone propped on top of a shoe, broadcasting the act using social media,” reported KSAT-TV.
Since Isaiah’s suicide, Alexis Gonzalez has struggled to make sense of her brother’s death reiterating that participants receive threats if they don’t follow the moderator’s deadly demands. “It wasn’t his time to go,” she said. “He was way too young. He had his whole life ahead of him.”
As for Isaiah’s parents, Angela and Jorge Gonzalez have gone public with the terrible tragedy, hoping to warn other parents about the deadly game. The family hopes spreading the word can stop other children from being drawn into Blue Whale via social media like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
The Gonzalez family encourages parents to regularly check their children’s social media accounts and phones for any signs of involvement in the Blue Whale challenge or other dangerous online activities. However, mental health experts say that because internet trends are constantly changing, parents need to take a bigger approach than just talking to their kids about Blue Whale.
Social Media Literacy
Dr. Jane Pearson of the National Institute of Mental Health said to CNN, “Instead of trying to catch every trend, a better approach might be to improve social media literacy to help kids understand how to manage it.” Isaiah Gonzalez’ other sister, Scarlett, shared a similar plea to parents. “Talk to your Children!” she told Heavy.com. “Your friends, anyone. Please, just make sure they’re okay.”
Scarlett Gonzalez has since been urging people to sign a petition to Facebook’s CEO to help put a stop to the Blue Whale Challenge. A spokesperson with Voices for Children of San Antonio tells parents to communicate with their families about their internet life and carefully monitor their social media accounts.
Experts have released a list of signs which warn parents that while their children are very smart, their emotional development doesn’t always match up with their intellectual or academic development.
-Are they spending more time online or on devices?
-Look for signs of isolation.
-Look for any loss of interest.
-Watch for changes in behavior or personality.
If you or someone you care about is caught up in the Blue Whale game or is having thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 and talk to someone who can help.