Dr. Dharmakanta Kumbhakar
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nowadays a few harmful and dangerous online games have become popular among the teenagers and young adults worldwide who are addicted to excessive video gaming in mobiles and computers. The Blue Whale challenge (also known as the Blue Whale game) is one such harmful and dangerous online game which is being linked to deaths by suicide of scores of teenagers and young adults around the world.
The Blue Whale is reportedly a deadly online challenge game which requires its psychologically-provoked players (called as challengers) to perform certain dangerous and self-destructive tasks given by the game 'administrators', such as etching a whale on one's arm, causing self-harm, waking up at 4:20 am, climbing a crane, carving a specific phrase on the challenger's own hand or arm, doing secret tasks, poking a needle to the arm or leg, standing on a bridge and a roof, listening to music, and watching horror and psychic videos sent to the challengers by the administrators for 50 days before finally taking the 'winning' step of committing suicide — and each task must be filmed and shared with the administrators as "proof". The game goes by many other names such as 'A Sea of Whales' and 'Wake Me Up at 4:20 am". The game cannot be installed in smart phone by app store. It can be played via social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook where the administrators get in touch with the participants after those interested throwing out posts on social media asking for a 'curator'. The game takes 50 days to complete. On the 50th day, the challengers are supposed to commit suicide by jumping off the roof or by hanging. The administrators say that if the challengers commit suicide, they 'win' the game and that if they don't, someone will come to help them. According to media reports, 22-year-old Russian Philipp Budeikin claims to have invented the game to cleanse society by provoking people who think they are not worthy of being alive to commit suicide.
The game attracts mostly teenagers and young adults who are more susceptible to online influences, and attempts to create an air of unworthiness and uselessness around them. The game is specially designed to target teenagers who are depressed. It influences kids, teenagers and young adults who are looking for some fun and challenges, but ultimately end up with death. The victims may have got involved with the game out of curiosity, but find themselves being psychologically-manipulated into continuing with the tasks. Some reports claim that there is no revocation once the players get into the game as the administrators of the game threaten to harm the players or their families if they try to back out of the game.
The parents, teachers, guardians and members of the civil society must monitor the children to stay away from this harmful game. It is up to the parents to create a positive environment for their children so they don't try such a fatal game. Parents and teachers must be available to talk to children and students when they go through vulnerable times. Making children aware of the dangers of the game and media literacy can keep them away from this game. It is important for the parents to monitor their children's internet usage, make note of what they are surfing and the kind of games they are playing, and follow whom they are speaking to. Some of the early noticeable signs and symptoms of this game addiction are depression, isolation, self-harm, late night and early morning Internet surfing, secret chatting, etc. If anyone notices any such suspected children, they should bring him/her to doctors. If the children are seemingly lost, lonely and depressed, parents and school managements should provide emotional support and take immediate action to get them involved socially in the real world and divert their mind by providing activities or giving them something new to learn. The parents, guardians and school teachers need to spend more time with children and keep an eye on their routine.
Most teenagers of sound mind with a supportive network at home and at school, are unlikely to stumble upon this game. The hysteria surrounding the Blue Whale "suicide game" needs to be re-focused on issues of adolescent depression that invite it. Addressing the root causes of vulnerability of teenagers and young adults and talking to them about such harmful groups and what they contain is perhaps a better form of defence against the Blue Whale game. Teenagers, students and young adults need to know how to support each other and who to unconditionally turn for help when there is an issue. I request all the youngsters: Please don't even think about playing this killer game. Please don't take any interest in playing this game.