Before we dive deep into this article, I would like to fully warn you that this post does make mention of suicide and mental health illnesses. As much as it is important to beat the stigma and talk about these issues, I ask that you please do not continue reading if you are uncomfortable with the topic or are triggered in any way by discussions of suicide. I 100% do not encourage anyone to participate in the Blue Whale game. The purpose of this article is to shed some information on a messed up game, so you know why you shouldn’t play it.
I don’t know about you guys, but when someone says to me “Blue Whale”, I have a flashback memory to my grade four project when I got to choose whatever animal I wanted and look up fun facts about it and cut up pictures. I also think of Dory communicating with whales from Finding Nemo.
I’m not actually referring to the gentle giants of the deep blue sea. Unfortunately, I am talking about the online social game featuring many challenges, and no, I’m also not referring to candy crush.
Upon first hearing about this horrid game I actually couldn’t believe it existed, it was like the movie Nerve, starring David Franco and Emma Roberts, had come to life! Although the real-life game takes it to a whole new level of extreme than the movie. The game, known as “Blue Whale,” is an online game filled with depressing and extreme challenges relating to self-harm. The name of the game was inspired by the way whales beach themselves on the seashore and die. It asks players to agree to follow set instructions over the course of 50 days. Once players are signed up to the game, daily challenges are set, starting very mild, ranging from watching scary movies all day, to waking up at odd times of the night. Eventually taking a toll mentally and physically on the player until reaching the final challenge at day 50 which is, committing suicide.
This sickening game is said to have originated in Russia where a man named Philipp Budeikin has pled guilty to inciting teenagers to suicide. Although originally, Budeikin stated he was just “having fun” and had no intention of creating this evil game, now Budeikin states that the purpose of the game was to fish out victims who are a “biological waste” and have no value as a means to “cleanse society”.
The game targets teenagers with signs of psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. The Blue Whale “leaders” select players (referred as “victims”) who are willing to play. Players are then allocated a mentor who leads the player through 50 risky and mentally challenging tasks. The idea of the game is to destroy the mental health of the player until little is left. The game seeks to plant suicidal thoughts into fragile minds by sending pictures of suicidal scenarios with captions like “this world is not for us” and “we are children of the dead generation”. Eventually, exhausting teenagers into suicidal submission after 50 days.
To date, it is said that around 130 deaths in Russia alone are a result from this twisted game. Although it hasn’t officially been confirmed, there have been many links between the game and numerous cases of teenage suicide, such as the death of five teenagers in India. More recently, the death of 18 year old and son of Egypt’s former MP, Hamdy El-Fakharany is also allegedly linked to the game. The sister of the teenager discovered many notes in his room of odd whale drawings and other strange symbols that led them to believe the game was the cause of his death. The passing of the teenage boy motivated his sister to take to Facebook to warn others of this “devilish game”. She even stated that, “as a religious boy, [he] wouldn’t have committed suicide”.As stated, the Russian deaths have not yet been confirmed, which leads me to believe that the Blue Whale game has all the qualities of being a moral panic and may just be a hoax. The game has the power to generate a wave of concerned parents on the internet to feed our news feeds with hysteria. South African sociologist Stanley Cohen first dubbed the term ‘moral panic’ after studying the correlative relationships between social order and media, and how key roles heavily affect social status and behaviour of individuals. In point, there technically is very little to no evidence that young people who are committing suicide are doing so because the Blue Whale “game masters” instructed them to. In saying that, I would not take the issue lightly, if this game is triggering people and implanting ideologies, then I would definitely hope that the site is shut down by now.
As I read about this game, there was something in common amongst a couple of stories that I heard. It was that the players felt as if they could defeat the game, and that they would never commit the final challenge. Which makes me not even want to think about what the other 49 challenges are that nudge players to challenge 50. Thankfully there have been no reported cases of the Blue Whale game in Australia. However, Australian police have issued warnings about the game spreading around the world, and have urged parents to discuss with their children about mental health and look out for warning signs.