Blue whale challenge risk

The Blue Whale Challenge might sound like just another popular social media trend, but it actually entails very dark and life-threatening challenges that everyone (especially parents) should be aware of.

What is the Blue Whale Challenge?

The Blue Whale Challenge gives kids a series of daily tasks, forming a 50-day dark and twisted game.

There are hundreds of thousands of posts relating to the sick trend on Instagram.

It’s thought a group administrator assigns daily tasks to members which they have to complete.

The horrific tasks include self-harming, watching horror movies and waking up at unusual hours, but these gradually get more extreme.

On the 50th day, the controlling manipulators behind the game reportedly instruct the youngsters to commit suicide.

The NSPCC say children should remember not to follow the crowd and not feel pressured into doing anything that makes them feel unsafe.

A spokesperson said: “Children can find it difficult to stand up to peer pressure but they must know it’s perfectly okay to refuse to take part in crazes that make them feel unsafe or scared.

“Parents should talk with their children and emphasise that they can make their own choices and discuss ways of how to say no.

“Reassuring a child that they can still be accepted even if they don’t go along with the crowd will help stop them doing something that could hurt them or make them uncomfortable.”

This isn’t the popular ice bucket challenge or trendy, yet still dangerous, cinnamon challenge – this challenge is a serious call for help. It’s dangerous, deadly and a symptom that a person is contemplating or even planning suicide.

Social media and teen suicide

The challenge has already been linked to 130 teenage deaths in Russia and many more across the world, including one Irish father who recently suffered the death of his son.

After finding his son’s body in a field near his home on May 11, Greg Wilmot searched the internet and believes the Blue Whale Challenge was a large factor in the death of his son.

Stop the bluewhale challenge

Is Blue Whale in the UK?

Essex Police informed a school in Basildon about the Blue Whale challenge and the headteacher wrote to parents about it.

The letter, sent by Woodlands School in Basildon read: “We have discovered a game through the police that we feel you should be aware of.

“It is called The Blue Whale Game and is played via many social media platforms.”

No deaths in Britain have been linked to the game, but police officers have posted online warnings to parents.

Devon and Cornwall Police PCSO Kirsty Down tweeted: “Whoever created this horrible game is sick!

“Parents: Please be aware of this ‘game’ talk to your children about it if concerned.”

Spreading the word through social media

Part of the game is to post each day’s task to social media. But social media has also been a tool to fight against the disturbing game. Since word spread about the Blue Whale Challenge, many people have taken to social media to warn others about the challenge and about suicide in general.

What is Instagram doing to stop the game spreading?

 

Instagram has started showing users a warning when they search for pictures relating to Blue Whale.

When you search for the term on the network, a notification appears which reads: “Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behaviour that can cause harm and even lead to death.

“If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help.”

But directly underneath the post it gives the option to “see posts anyway”.

There are several shocking pictures of self-harm and even jokes about the sick game once you click through.

Some include pools of blood on the floor, while others appear to show a whale carved onto an arm.

Instagram and the blue whale challenge

Noticing suicidal signs in your own children

One of the biggest parenting challenges is feeling unsure of what your kids are thinking about or going through. The internet and social media opens up new ways for parents to watch out for suicidal signs in their own children.

International internet safety expert Dr Rachel O’Connell said, “Parents should try to encourage conversations about what sites and apps their children access and who they’re connecting with. This dialogue is essential to keeping our kids safe online.”

According to the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, the warning signs of a kid or teen contemplating self harm or suicide include:

  • Expressing hopelessness about the future.
  • Displaying overwhelming distress.
  • Marked changes in behavior, including in social and emotional behaviour.
  • Talking about suicide or self harm (even jokingly).
  • Experiencing stressful situations, such as loss, unwelcome change or personal humiliation.