What parents should know about the online ‘blue whale challenge’ after teen’s suicide
Posted July 12
Updated 5:00 p.m. Friday
If you’re the parent of a teen, you should be aware of the “Blue Whale Challenge.”
Described as an online suicide game, it encourages participants to complete a series of tasks that range from the seemingly harmless, such as watching horror films and not speaking to anyone all day, to the very dangerous, such as cutting your lip and carving pictures and words into your skin.
The last “challenge” is for participants to end their own lives. Reportedly, the deadly game originated in Russia, where it’s been linked to 130 teen deaths.
Parents say that teens communicate with game administrators called “curators” or “whales” through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to prove they have completed the tasks and get their instructions for the next challenge.
A Texas family says their 15-year-old son, Isaiah Gonzalez, committed suicide because of the game. After finding their son dead from an apparent hanging with a cell phone propped up to document his death, the Gonzalez family says they found pictures of the tasks the boy had sent to his friends.
His family talks more about the tragedy in the video below.
"It talks about satanic stuff and stuff like that, and my son was never into that," Isaiah’s father, Jorge, told WOAI.
"They blew it off like it was a joke. and if one of them would have said something, one of them would have called us, he would have been alive," his sister, Scarlett Cantu-Gonzales, said.
While some are saying that the challenge does not exist and is simply an internet hoax, at least one other family in the United States is blaming their daughter’s apparent suicide on the game.
“I start researching and start reading more about the game, what it's asking. Then I start to put some of the pieces-how during the weekend she asked me to step on the roof of the house," the girl's mother told WNCN. "I realized one of the pictures is from our roof, and it's something that the game asked.”
Authorities, schools and the affected families are encouraging parents to keep a close eye on their children’s social media accounts and to watch out for any suspicious behavior. Safe Smart Social offers important tips and advice on how to ensure your child does not succumb to this deadly game.
- Ask your children about their social media usage
- Contact your children’s school to find out whether other students have been involved with the Blue Whale Challenge
- Encourage your kids to keep things private on the internet
- Monitor your child’s phone and internet activity
It can also pay to stay on top of the texting acronyms that teens commonly use. KPC for example, means “keeping parents clueless.” LMIRL? “Let’s meet in real life.”
The Blue Whale Challenge is the latest in a series of dangerous challenges that kids often find themselves encouraged to play, including the salt and ice challenge, deodorant challenge and eraser challenge-all of which have caused physical harm to kids.