China tightens surveillance of fast spreading ‘suicide game’ Blue Whale

Updated on May 25, 2017 10:01 PM IST
Chinese authorities have tightened online surveillance to counter the spread of Blue Whale, a challenge game that originated in Russia and ends with the participant expected to commit suicide.
Purported photo of a “blue whale” cutting on the arm of a person playing the online challenge game.(Courtesy The Siberian Times)
Purported photo of a “blue whale” cutting on the arm of a person playing the online challenge game.(Courtesy The Siberian Times)
Hindustan Times, Beijing | BySutirtho Patranobis

The name “Blue Whale” might sound benign but the online “suicide game” that targets teenagers and young children is triggering panic among parents and authorities in China after apparently inciting several suicides in Russia.

At least one Chinese youth has been detained, online surveillance over social media has been widened and parents are being urged to be alert about their children’s online surfing habits.

Chen Long from Zhejiang police’s cyber security team told Xinhua the spread of the game has been “unprecedented” and “in some ways like a cult”.

According to state media, the online challenge game, said to have originated in Russia, starts with asking the participant to draw a blue whale on paper. From here, it starts getting creepy and outright harmful physically. Participants are asked to carve the whale “onto your body, and watching horror movies“, and the game demands players complete 50 tasks in 50 days, with the “last task to commit suicide”.

An alert and alarmed mother in Zhejiang province of eastern China frantically called police when she found her teenage son was taking part and obsessing over the game.

“In Zhejiang’s Ningbo City, a 12-year-old girl nicknamed Han Jing founded a similar group and uploaded three photos of her self-harming. When asked why, she replied: ‘I am not good at school, and don’t have friends. I feel frustrated,’” state media reported.

Police found a group on the instant messaging service Tencent QQ was inviting teenagers and youngsters to take part in the game.

“Those who would like to join in the game must get up 4.20 am tomorrow. I will send you a horror movie and you must watch it alone, or face the consequences,” was the set of disturbing instructions and warning by the group’s founder, operating under the pseudonym Xiao Yang, official Xinhua news agency reported.

“Xiao, who called himself vice president of Blue Whale’s China Bureau, listed 50 tasks, including: cutting your arm along the vein with a razor; stabbing your hand with a needle repeatedly; don’t talk to anyone all day and accept the date of your death,” the report said.

In another case from Guangxi province, a 17-year-old was detained for posting images and comments on self-harm “tasks” to a Tencent QQ chat group.

So far, there’s been no report of anyone playing the game committing suicide in China but given that the country has the world’s largest number of internet users – more than 700 million -- the danger of someone succumbing to the game’s macabre pull always exists.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • With Sunak showing little sign of making inroads, Truss is the hot favorite to become the party’s and the country’s next leader.

    Rishi Sunak losing UK prime minister race, trails Liz Truss by 32 points

    Liz Truss led Rishi Sunak by 32 points in the latest survey of UK Tory members by the ConservativeHome website, suggesting she remains on track to win the race to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister. Some 60% of the 961 Tory members polled by the influential website said they favored Truss to become the Conservative Party's new leader, while just 28% backed Sunak, ConservativeHome said on Wednesday.

  • Afghanistan, where Taliban are ruling now, however, is yet to meet the expectations of both China as well as Pakistan on many counts.

    China wants military outposts in Pakistan to safeguard its investments

    Having made significant investments in the conflict-prone Pakistan-Afghanistan region as part of its hugely ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, China is planning to protect its interests in the two countries by stationing its own forces in specially created outposts, according to top diplomatic sources. Pakistan, where according to some estimates the Chinese investments have risen above USD 60 billion, is largely dependent on China not only for financial but also military and diplomatic support.

  • US Representative Liz Cheney at an election night event during the Wyoming primary election.

    Republican leader who voted for Trump's impeachment loses Wyoming primary

    Cheney will now be forced from Congress at the end of her third and final term in January. Far, US President Donald Trump's has helped install loyalists who parrot his conspiracy theories in general election matchups from Pennsylvania to Arizona. With Cheney's loss, Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are going extinct. Democrats across America, major donors among them, took notice. Trump earned nearly 70% of the vote in 2016 and 2020.

  • Former US President Donald Trump.

    Trump says FBI returned his passports: 'Unfortunately, they just grabbed…'

    Former US president Donald Trump on Wednesday said that the department of justice and the FBI returned his passports seized during the raid at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida last week. Trump said on Tuesday in a statement in a Truth Social post. On Monday, he alleged that the federal law enforcement agency “stole” three passports, one of which he said was expired.

  • Arizona's allocation from the river will fall by 21 percent in 2023, while Nevada will get eight percent less.

    US cuts water supply for some states, Mexico as drought bites

    Water supplies to some US states and Mexico will be cut to avoid "catastrophic collapse" of the Colorado River, Washington officials said Tuesday, as a historic drought bites. Arizona's allocation from the river will fall by 21 percent in 2023, while Nevada will get eight percent less. Mexico's allotment will drop by seven percent. It is fed chiefly by snowpack at high altitudes, which melts slowly throughout the warmer months.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now