Blue Whale Challenge is not a game, its suicide

Prevention is better than cure

Technology, where on one hand has made our lives a lot easier than ancient times, at the same time has brought some serious setbacks. Internet has conquered our lives and we have taken it more serious than it is. Pakistan is one of those countries where technological revolution is on its peak nowadays. However, the misfortune is that we Pakistanis spend most of our time in discussing politics and lose track of some of the important and considerable happenings occurring around the world. And because of this lack of knowledge, we often suffer the consequences.

Internet trends, games, social media communities, apps have taken over our lives. Everyday new trends are introduced; some of the recent famous trends and games on the Internet are “Pokemon Go Adventure”, “Snapchat”, “Candy Crush”, “Ludo Star” and nowadays “Sarahah” app is the latest.
But amidst all these fun and entertainment apps, there is horrifying news as well. A game named “Blue Whale Challenge” has taken the Internet by storm not only in South Asia, but in almost 20 countries around the globe. It's not just a game; it's suicide which after completion of 49 tasks ultimately takes your life in the final task.

When it originated?

The game originated in Russia back in 2013 when a Russian pressure group of “VKontakte” social network was identified by the Russian authorities for being responsible for all this death game. The first suicide occurred in 2015. Philip Budekin, a 21 year old Russian, is the man who developed this game. Despite of the fact that the game developer is now in police custody, the fear still remains as the group, according to reports is said to have thousands of members and subscribers on Facebook and YouTube (NOTE: Both networks are widely used by Pakistani internet users as well).

How the game is played?

Many of you must have seen the famous Hollywood movie “SAW” in which people are forced to save them from dying in a specified time but fail to do so because they are left with no choice but dying. But “Blue Whale Challenge” is the opposite as there is no forcefulness in it, in fact you are brainwashed to do so by your own will. In other words you are made to submit to killing yourself.

The game is based on 50 challenges which the participant is supposed to complete in 50 days. An anonymous administrator gives them a task which they have to complete the following day at any cost. The tasks consist of crazy hurdles such as carving a whale or phrase on the person’s own arm or waking up at 4:20am to watch a scary video and many others.

Participants are instructed and required to send videos or photos to the administrator as a proof that they have completed the assigned task. This is done through Skype or other video calling apps. The game slowly and gradually becomes a death pit and in the final day, players are asked to commit suicide (for example, the most frequent one was that they were told to jump off a building).

According to reports, the link for blue whale appears on different social media platforms asking you to accept the challenge if you want something difficult or daring. The link has also been reported to appear on renowned social media sites such as Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and Whatsapp.

Death toll brought by the challenge

According to a Russian newspaper: “This game is responsible for 130 suicides (globally) that took place between November 2015 to April 2016.” But it has emerged to become even worse now and continues to spread in other countries as well.

According to reports, few deaths have been reported in Argentina, many victims have been reported in Brazil.

In Bulgaria, two discussion groups about suicides were opened on Facebook, but were quickly reported and deleted.

In Chile, two teenagers were discovered to have formed a whale with a blade on their arms. The third, however was saved as he was contacted by the police and was told to not accept the request.

In China, a 10-year old girl posted some self mutilated photos after which they were taken down as the strict monitoring by the authorities has been underway since then.

Three deaths were reported in Colombia.

In Georgia, a 12-year old jumped off a fifth floor of a building and is under treatment. The investigation is underway.

A Google Trends report for the last 12 months showed that India had seen the highest number of searches related to the Blue Whale Challenge in the world! Even worse news is that it tops the rank. Within India, the state’s most vulnerable to the Blue Whale game are the North Eastern ones.

Not only are the top 3 slots taken by them, 6 of the 7 sisters of the North East are among the top 10. At the moment, Kochi leads the list of world cities with the highest number of Blue Whale Challenge searches.

Not to pull on the list other countries where cases have been reported and some players were saved include Italy, Kenya, Paraguay, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

India being the highest one to face this calamity is under great threat and it is getting worse. The authorities are investigating and are concerned over spreading awareness for teenagers to not play the game.

But the game is still not under control as another death was reported yesterday. A 17-year-old in Rajasthan’s state of Jodhpur was rescued by police and local divers. The girl told the police that this was final part of the 50-task Blue Whale Challenge she had been playing.

Who are at risk?

The main target of this deathly game till now have been teenagers who socialise on different social media sites and have interest in games. Those who refuse to do it are threatened that the administrator possesses all their information and would bring harm to them or their loved ones if they don’t do it.
Most teenagers (and adults) of sound mind with a supportive network at home and at school, are unlikely to stumble upon this “game” or be brainwashed by it.

Is it coming to Pakistan?

It is obviously not a new thing that Pakistan and India are much alike whether it’s in terms of geography, viral infections or the trends and it is usually seen that both India and Pakistan receive such things in line as they are both part of the Sub-Continent. Blue Whale Challenge is the new internet virus that has hit India and now the point of concern is, Is Pakistan the next target?

However, thankfully no cases up till now have been reported in Pakistan but there are chances that it can come to Pakistan as well.

Being aware about the deadly phenomenon, the responsibility of protecting ours and other citizens’ lives depends on us as fellow human beings and we must spread awareness to others regarding the upcoming danger as not many of the people in Pakistan are aware about this game and the consequences of playing it.

Please be aware of this suicide game and do not accept any requests from unknown and third-party apps if they try to access you.

Because prevention is better than cure!

The writer is a Media Graduate and a Broadcast Journalist by profession. She has a keen interest in reading, storytelling, writing and possesses a critical view of the various dilemmas of Pakistani society, especially those concerned with the oppression of women. Follow her on Twitter.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt