The Blue Whale Chal­lenge and How to Spot a Player

Business Bhutan - - Opinion - Fumbly Play

This ar­ti­cle is a re­port on the Blue Whale Chal­lenge – an In­ter­net phe­nom­e­non that is claimed to have caused the sui­cides of hun­dreds of youth all over the world. The ar­ti­cle de­tails the de­vel­op­ment of the game in the me­dia. At the end is a list of be­hav­iors to look out for in peo­ple who might be par­tic­i­pants in the game. Since it al­most al­ways ends in the death of the par­tic­i­pant, the au­thor finds it im­por­tant to ask his read­ers to first read those be­hav­ioral pat­terns so that they may be vig­i­lant; es­pe­cially since the length of the ar­ti­cle might dis­suade read­ers from fin­ish­ing.

July 11th, 2017 – The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ports on the sui­cide of a 15-yearold in the U.S. named Isa­iah Gon­za­lez. The re­port states that par­ents of the de­ceased be­lieved their son died due to the game. They found he had hanged him­self in his room and live streamed the sui­cide through his phone. An­other reporter later wrote that lo­cal po­lice claimed there wasn’t enough ev­i­dence to con­nect the sui­cide of Isa­iah to the Blue Whale Chal­lenge.

July 11th, 2017 – Sky News pub­lishes a chill­ing re­port, a story about Oleg Ka­peav, a UK res­i­dent who claims to have par­tic­i­pated in the chal­lenge and be­ing close to fin­ish­ing – by jump­ing off a build­ing in Moscow – be­fore be­ing res­cued by his fam­ily. Mr. Ka­paev said, “I couldn’t be­lieve any­one could ac­tu­ally kill them­selves by play­ing it. Be­cause I didn’t be­lieve it I guess, I de­cided to look for it.” He claims that once a par­tic­i­pant, the game ad­min­is­tra­tors psy­cho­log­i­cally ma­nip­u­late you, “you be­come a bit of a zom­bie.” About the end – why par­tic­i­pants are driven to sui­cide, Mr. Ka­paev says, “I didn’t feel like I needed to kill my­self. I felt I needed to com­plete the task. I only had this thought in my head that I need to com­plete the task.”

Why would any­one agree to kill him­self or her­self just be­cause some strangers on the In­ter­net asked you to? It seems that once a par­tic­i­pant de­clares their in­ten­tion to play the game, they are hooked and trapped by black­mail. Some par­tic­i­pants who suc­cess­fully stopped play­ing, or who were in the process of play­ing told re­porters that the game ad­min­is­tra­tors seemed to have in­for­ma­tion about the fam­i­lies of the par­tic­i­pants. And that th­ese ad­min­is­tra­tors con­stantly threat­ened par­tic­i­pants with harm to their fam­i­lies should they back out.

This time­line of the Blue Whale phe­nom­e­non in the me­dia might con­fuse a lot of read­ers. It doesn’t seem to jus­tify the cred­i­bil­ity or dis­cred­i­bil­ity of the sto­ries. But some ex­perts of sui­cide pre­ven­tion claim that the ques­tion of cred­i­bil­ity doesn’t mat­ter. The sto­ries about th­ese sui­cides can cre­ate a “sui­cide con­ta­gion” – where youth copy other youth killing them­selves. So, the need to know the truth of it might only be an in­tel­lec­tual mat­ter at this point. No mat­ter what, so­ci­eties, par­ents, po­lice, and ev­ery­one should treat them as be­ing true and re­main vig­i­lant to see that youth in Bhutan don’t be­come par­tic­i­pants to games like this.

What is ter­ri­fy­ing is the in­creas­ing traf­fic the phrase “blue whale chal­lenge” or re­lated searches are get­ting on Google in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries like Kenya and In­dia. In fact, in the past month, In­dia has re­ceived the high searches of “blue whale game.” Even more so, the South Asian re­gion’s Google Trends records show that more and more peo­ple have been look­ing to down­load or find the game for them­selves. Search queries such as “blue whale apk,” “blue whale chal­lenge down­load,” etc. are all marked “break­out” by Google. The “break­out” tagline is re­served for queries whose search queries have gone up dras­ti­cally in short pe­ri­ods of time.

Thank­fully, most so­cial me­dia sites have al­ready in­stalled bul­warks against peo­ple’s cu­rios­ity of the Blue Whales Chal­lenge. If you tried to look up the phrase on Tum­blr, you’ll be greeted with a page that says, “Ev­ery­thing okay?” along with a num­ber of sui­cide pre­ven­tion hot­line numbers. Face­book and other sites have also cre­ated sim­i­lar fea­tures to pro­tect peo­ple, the youth es­pe­cially, from par­tic­i­pat­ing n the game. But the truth is that when it comes to the In­ter­net, no mea­sure is good enough. It might have been that the game was never a real story, but that it be­came one once fake sto­ries about it went vi­ral. Once a phe­nom­e­non is brought to the no­tice of the In­ter­net, it be­comes co-owned and coopted by all kinds of users from all over the world. And thereby, a fake story might evolve into a real one, and then, no ver­min can be com­pletely killed – to try to clean the In­ter­net of prac­tices like the Blue Whale Chal­lenge is like play­ing whack-a-mole. If you hit a mole at one place, more might ap­pear at other places, and if you tried to hit all the moles, they will ap­pear out­side of the board – un­der­ground. And at that point, prac­tices be­come even more dif­fi­cult to po­lice, patrol, and pacify. But it is rel­a­tively easy to rec­og­nize and save youth from par­tic­i­pat­ing in this chal­lenge. There are themes in the 50 acts that sig­nal that some­one is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Blue Whale Chal­lenge. If you no­tice more than one or two signs listed be­low in some­one you know, talk to them and seek as­sur­ance that they are not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the game – make sure to fol­low through and ob­serve their be­hav­ior and ac­tions:

• Cuts on skin (usu­ally, par­tic­i­pants are asked to write F58 or blue whale or 4:20)

• Cuts on wrist (par­tic­i­pants are asked to pro­duce length­wise cuts on their wrists)

• Whale draw­ings on pa­per

• Cuts on skin or cuts that read “yes”

• Scratches on skin that read F40

• Hash­tags like #Im-A-Whale #blue-whale-chal­lenge #I_am_whale #Sea-Of-Whales #Wake-Me-At-420 #F57 #F58 #Cu­ra­tor-Find-Me on so­cial me­dia

• Wak­ing up at 4:20 AM more than once or twice.

• Wak­ing up at 4:20 AM to go to a roof

• Scratch out or draw a whale on hand

• Spend an en­tire day watch­ing hor­ror videos

• Cut lips

• Nee­dle marks on arms

• Self-hurt

• Stand­ing on edges of roofs and tak­ing pic­tures

• Stand­ing on edges of bridges and tak­ing pic­tures

• Climb­ing on cranes

• Skyp­ing un­known peo­ple (par­tic­i­pants are asked to speak with their cu­ra­tors on­line)

• Go to the rails

While th­ese are spe­cific things to look out for in peo­ple who might par­tic­i­pate in the chal­lenge, most ex­perts have said that youth who tend to be in­ter­ested in things like this are those who aren’t do­ing well – men­tal health wise. There­fore, the best pos­si­ble pre­ven­tion is def­i­nitely tak­ing care of the men­tal health of youth in Bhutan. Even with­out this chal­lenge, there al­ready is a dis­gust­ingly high rate of sui­cide among youth. To fol­low th­ese tips and en­sure that the Blue Whale Chal­lenge or any sin­is­ter games like it don’t claim any vic­tims in Bhutan is not just a duty to the na­tion, it is also a mo­rally right­eous task.

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