Blue Whale suicide: Parents, schools can help vulnerable teenagers from falling prey
Experts said parents and schools can play an important role in putting an end to these deaths by simple methods of surveillance and taking care of teenagers’ mental health.Updated: Jul 31, 2017 22:36 IST
Experts have said parents and schools can help stop the so-called Blue Whale challenge deaths by keeping a watch over teenagers and taking care of their mental health after police indicated the online suicide game could be the reason a 14-year-old Mumbai boy jumped to his death last week.
Police said the Class 9 student, who lived in Sher-e-Punjab area of Andheri (East), went to his building’s terrace at around 5pm on Saturday and committed suicide.
Blue Whale challenge, which targets teenagers and young children, calls on participants via social media to complete a dangerous self-harm challenge over a period of 50 days and allegedly encourages them to win the game by committing suicide. The tasks range from self-harming, watching scary movies to waking up at unusual hours, media reported.
According to reports, the dangerous game has killed more than 100 children in Russia and the United Kingdom.
“This is a clear cut example of not being able to differentiate between virtual and real world. When a video game character dies, he can be restored again but the teenagers or adolescents today tend to take these games and challenges too seriously and forget the difference between dying in the game and for real,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, a psychiatrist at KEM Hospital.
“Some of these millennials may talk maturely, behave adult like but their minds are still vulnerable and succumb to peer pressure,” said Dr Parul Tank
She also advised parents to keep abreast with the activities of their children.
“I am not saying act like a satellite mom or dad, hovering over every tweet, status or WhatsApp message that goes out. Surveillance is not a rocket science, check the web history, see what sites your child is visiting and talk about it rather than setting rules or taboos. Sometimes, it’s better to know their thoughts rather than telling them what they are supposed to do,” she added.
Experts also advised schools to help in strengthening the child mentally and educated against suicide.
“Adolescents are vulnerable and these psychological challenges provide them with an outlet and manipulate them to self-harm. It’s important that they become psychologically strong and since they spend the maximum amount of their time in schools, it’s easier for them to play an important role,” Dr Mundada added.
He said different activities such as plays, games and fun-filled days can be organised around mental health apart from making it a part of the curriculum.
“Moreover, the glorification of suicide needs to be stopped. Children shouldn’t think it as a style statement or proving a point because celebrities are doing it. They have to be fed in their brains that suicide is an act of weakness and vulnerability,” Dr Mundada added.
- The online suicide game, the Blue Whale challenge, is said to have originated in Russia
- It starts with asking the participant to draw a blue whale on paper
- Participants are asked to carve the whale onto their body, and given other tasks, like watching horror movies alone
- The game demands players complete 50 tasks in 50 days, with the last task being to commit suicide
- The term “Blue Whale” comes from the phenomenon of beached whales, which is linked to suicide.
The Blue Whale challenge is said to be the brainchild of an arrested Russian national, who admitted to having psychologically manipulated teen girls to kill themselves.
The challenge is played primarily via the website VKontakte, a popular social network in Russia, and starts with asking the participant to draw a blue whale on paper. Participants are then asked to carve the whale onto their body, and given other tasks such as watching horror movies alone. The game demands players complete 50 tasks in 50 days, with the last one being to commit suicide.
It gets its name from a common belief that blue whales deliberately beach themselves in order to end their own lives.