I first heard about the Blue Whale Challenge a few months back after binge watching the infamous Netflix series, 13 Reasons. If you have not heard about 13 Reasons, it is a Netflix series where a girl commits suicide and leaves thirteen tapes with specific instructions on who should listen to the tapes as well as who to pass them off to next. There has been a lot of debate as to the age of viewers as well as effects of the kids who are watching it, particularly unsupervised or without any dialogue from anyone other than their friends. Blue Whale like 13 Reasons does result in suicide however, it is in a league of its own…
What is it?
Blue Whale is a dangerous personal obstacle suicide game where game players find a curator online who over 50 days assigns the player numerous self-harm challenges. The challenges begin with simple things such as watching a scary movie. The curator will then increase the challenges and have the player begin cutting, sitting on the edge of buildings and on the 50th day, commit suicide, all which is often played out on social media.
Blue Whale has been known to target preteens as well as teenagers according to the website heavy.com. It has been linked to at least 130 teen deaths across Russia with at least two teens in the United States who were believed to have committed suicide after completing the Blue Whale Challenge. Teenagers are naturally emotional and dealing with an influx of feelings and emotions but when should you take what they are saying seriously? What are the signs to look for? What can you do if you suspect your child is involved in the Blue Whale Challenge?
Signs to Look For…
- Sleep Issues
- Increased, secretive interest in the internet
- Drawing pictures of whales
What Can You Do?
If you have children that are in late elementary school, middle school or highschool, it is important to listen to your child even when they are not talking. Be aware of what is consuming their time. Middle school aged children can be hard to understand because they are in a transition phase where they are fighting for their independence as well as trying to handle their thriving social life with their peers so their behavior is all over the place as they are searching to “find themselves.” They are dealing with a range of hormones and most times do not have the mental capacity to deal with the sudden changes appropriately. They are searching to be a part of something and in today’s society, the “thing” that gets the most attention is what is appealing to them. If you suspect your child is involved with the challenge, it is important to consult with your pediatrician to ensure they get the help they need. The pediatrician will know the appropriate questions to ask your child as well as if they need a referral for counseling or a full psychological evaluation.
Below are a few websites that provide great information for parents and caregivers of teens and adolescents…
The Blue Whale Challenge
Teen and Adolescent Mental Health Awareness