Bulgarian Teenage Girl Dies After Playing Suicide 'Blue Whale' Game
One family believes an online game led a 16-year-old girl to commit suicide. The game is called “Blue Whale” and it reportedly incites players to take their own lives, according to WNCN and CNN, quoted by Vesti.bg.
It’s still not clear if the game really exists or not.
She was young, beautiful and playful. Her family wants to share the teen’s story, but asked CNN to conceal her identity.
Blue Whale is described as an online suicide game. The game reportedly started in Russia two years ago and has been linked to teen suicides all over the world.
Through a 50-day challenge, players are supposedly given 50 daily tasks by an anonymous administrator and must submit photo evidence each day to prove each task is complete
On the last day, those who play are told to commit suicide.
Last month, the Baldwin County Public School System in Georgia issued a warning to parents the a game that encourages players to harm themselves and potentially commit suicide.
The “Blue Whale” game has reached two high schools in Baldwin County, though officials wouldn’t confirm which ones.
“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 said.
“I realized one of the pictures is from our roof, and it’s something that the game asked,” the mom added.
Originally from Bulgaria, the family has been in the U.S. for 15 years, unaware of any communication the teenager had outside of the country, if any.
“I am a whale. This is basically saying goodbye and this is basically saying goodbye as well. With the Blue Whale,” her brother said looking at drawings the girl did.
“This is in Russian, it’s not in Bulgarian, yes,” the brother added.
The brother said the family didn’t know if the girl knew Russian.
While authorities aren’t clear if the so-called “game” is real, it’s caught their attention.
Warnings about blue whale circulate in parts the country.
“It’s a real thing. I lost my sister to it, or at least part of it. I would say by the looks of everything we found it’s a major part of it,” the brother said.
“And there needs to be awareness, people need to know, parents need to know, to look for signs, to monitor their kids a little better. And try to know and understand who they’re talking to and when,” the girl’s brother said.
Mental health experts say it’s critical for parents and children to be aware of the internet’s impact when it comes to teen suicide.
“There’s a lot of good information out there to help kids think through what’s fiction, what’s not fiction,” said Dr. Jane Pearson of the National Institute of Mental Health.
“You can imagine another trend might come up at any time, so instead of trying to catch every trend, a better approach might be to improve social media literacy. To help kids understand how to manage it,” Pearson said.
As law enforcement investigates the circumstances of the suicide, the family continues to search for evidence hoping their tragedy will prevent others from falling prey to Blue Whale.
Bulgaria’s Centre for Safe Internet told BIRN that it has been contacted by large numbers of concerned parents and teachers about the game, which is allegedly played in closed groups in social networks, writes the Balkan Insight.
The panicked adults have cited news and photographs which they have seen on social networks showing a bloody image of a whale carved into the skin of a child who has been provoked to harm himself or herself by an online ‘guardian’ as part of the game.
But the Sofia-based Centre for Safe Internet said that there was no concrete evidence for the existence of the game or anything to substantiate the claim that teenagers were playing it in Bulgaria.
“‘Blue Whale’ is a creepy manipulation of parents’ fears,” the internet watchdog said in a statement on Monday.
The Centre for Safe Internet issued its statement after a number of Bulgarian websites published articles claiming that the Russian game, which they claimed had taken the lives of hundreds of teens, was now being played in Bulgaria.
“The Blue Whale Doomed Hundreds of Kids, it is Coming to Bulgaria. Protect your Children!”, “A Horrifying Game Leaves Children Dead” and “The Blue Whale Killed Over 200 Children” were among the headlines.
The hysteria followed the revival of a story which originated in Russia in November 2015 with the suicide of a teenage girl whose death was linked to claims that a group of criminals were running an online game that provoked children to take 50 challenges, and then coerced them to commit suicide at the end.
A number of online groups started emerging in the Russian social network Vkontakte, where teenagers used hashtags such as #bluewhale (or Siniy Kit in Russian), “silenthome”, or codes like f57,f58 in order to take part in the game.
After the teenagers typed the hashtags, they started receiving orders from an anonymous online ‘guardian’, with the final one being to commit suicide, Russian media reported.
Newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that between November 2015 and April 2016, 130 teenagers committed suicide in Russia because of the game, but no evidence was provided to substantiate the claim and the authorities did not confirm it.
Since then, the story has continued to circulate in media in Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, also reaching countries like Bulgaria.
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