New Delhi: A young man from Gujarat committed suicide and a Delhi teen cut himself as a task in the Blue Whale Challenge. Identified as Ashok Maluna, he jumped off a bridge into Sabarmati river on Friday shortly after posting a video on Facebook in which he said the step was him completing the Blue Whale Challenge.
While the 17-year-old boy of Delhi cut his arm with his geometry kit and had been watching horror movies, activities linked to the online ‘game’, as per a report by HT.
Officials in several cities have issued alerts and have urged internet service providers and social networking websites to help stop the spread of the game.
The Blue Whale Challenge requires participants to complete a number of tasks within a 50-day period. The tasks become increasingly harmful through self-mutilation, and the final step is suicide.
While details of how the game is accessed are unclear, social media trends indicate the role of an online pressure group that gets in touch with targets, giving them the challenges and monitoring ‘progress’.
“The parents had noticed a change in the behaviour of the 17-year-old for the last 10 or 15 days. He had become more reclusive,” said Dr Bhagat Rajput, consulting neuropsychologist at a Dwarka hospital.
“His parents found out that he had scratched his face and had also cut himself with his geometry kit. That is when he was brought in for counselling. In the sessions too, we could make out that he had low self-confidence and was definitely addicted to the internet,” he said.
Police in Gujarat said the suicide victim, Maluna, shot a video in which he said, “this is the final stage of my Blue Whale Challenge and now I am going to commit suicide”.
In the video, Maluna, in his early twenties, said that he stole Rs 40,000 from home and he, along with a friend, had gone to Mumbai to commit suicide. Due to heavy rain, he said, they couldn’t complete their task.
Parents are advised to keep a track of behavioural changes in their children. Sudden isolation, watching horror movies or listening to unusual music could be a sign that they have been targeted by the psychological manipulation the moderators of the Blue Whale challenge are known for.
“It is usual for adolescents to indulge in risky behaviour to show off in front of peers. So, it is important for parents to form a bond of friendship with them rather than that of a disciplinarian. This will increase the chances for children to discuss their issues with parents,” said Dr (Brig) KS Rana, senior consultant of paediatric neurology at the hospital.