A few weeks ago I was talking to Idriss: VOX's newly elected president, he told me about the tragic story of a Tunisian teenager residing in Qatar who committed suicide because he was "friend-zoned" by the girl he was attracted to. Naturally, I wanted to learn more about the story, so I entered a few keywords on Google I thought would give accurate results but what surprised me more than the fact there was so little information about this story is the cheer content related to teenage suicide in rural areas of the North African nation. It appeared that these acts had something in common, they were in the majority the result of these teenagers playing a game on the Russian social network VK called The Blue Whale Challenge.
This game, mostly popular in Russia and Asia, involves teenagers signing up to groups and being assigned an "administrator" who will take them through a fifty-day long journey where they accomplish a daily task. The firsts ones are mostly easy, the may involve drawing a Whale for example, but it quickly evolves to become a means of self-harm and eventually ends in suicide. You might question what would happen if the teenager suddenly decides to quit the challenge. Quitting the challenge is much harder than it seems as the moderators threaten to ruin their lives as they would already have sensitive data about them including their home address and their parents' credentials. Two possible victims of this creepy movement are Nika Volkova and Yulia Konstantinova who both jumped out of a 14 story building and eventually ending their lives, the awkward thing about this story is that shortly after they passed away their social media accounts remain active as one of them posted the picture of a Blue Whale and the other just posted “end.”.
We should also note that all the teenagers who get involved in the challenge already express suicidal thoughts as a RadioFreeEurope correspondent created a fake account on VK and established contact with an “administrator” who said “Carry out each task diligently and no one must know about it. When you finish a task you send me a photo. At the end of the game, you die.” This makes it seem like the Blue Whale Challenge isn’t aiming at pushing normal teenagers to putting an end to their lives but to take those on the verge of suicide through a horrible journey where it doesn’t seem like there is a way back.
Fortunately this game has had virtually no impact in Western Europe and in the United Kingdom, this is due to teenagers being noticeably better supported in their school environment and at home, moreover, we live in a country where cybercrime is taken seriously especially when it involves minors. This phenomenon should therefore be a reminder that no one should go through such thoughts alone since help is readily available and should be sought before it’s too late.