The 'Blue Whale Game', or also called the 'Blue Whale Challenge', is an internet game that exists in several countries.
Mainly spreading on social media networks as a phenomenon, the "game" reportedly consists of a series of tasks assigned to players by administrators over a 50-day period. The goal of the challenges, is to introduce elements of self-harm, with the final challenge requiring the player to commit suicide.
The tasks include, and may not limited to the following, and may vary:
- Carve a specific phrase, usually 'F57', on the person’s own hand or arm.
- Wake up at unusual hours, usually at 4:20AM. and watch a horror video sent by the administrators.
- Make lengthwise cuts on the person's own body.
- Draw a whale on a piece of paper.
- Write yes on the person’s own leg if ready to be a whale. If not, they should cut themselves or self-mutilate themselves.
- Doing secret task.
- Scratch a message on the person’s own arm.
- Write a status on social media about being a whale.
- Overcome a specific fear.
- Get up at 4:20 and go on top of the person house's roof.
- Carve a whale on the person's own hand.
- Watch horror movies for an entire day.
- Listen to music the administrators send.
- Cut the person's own lips.
- Poke a needle to the person’s own arm.
- Purposefully make the person hurt or sick on their own will.
- Climb to a roof and stand on the edge.
- Stand on a bridge.
- Climb a crane.
- If the administrators see the players as trustworthy, the administrators then talk to the player on Skype.
- Climb to the roof and have the person's legs dangling over the edge.
- Doing another secret task.
- Meet the "whale" (administrator).
- The administrator then assigns a date for the player to die.
- Not speaking with anyone for a day.
- A final oath and vow about being a whale.
After the days are over, the final challenge often requires the player to commit suicide.
The phenomenon first attracted news coverage in May 2016, through an article by Galina Mursaliyeva in Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which linked many unrelated child suicides to membership of group "F57" on the Russian-based VK social network.
This was when investigations suggested that the game actually began in Russia around the year 2013, and has claimed its first suicide victim in 2015.
At that time, a Russian teenager posted a selfie with the caption "nya bye" before killing herself.
Shortly, her death was discussed discreetly in some internet forums and groups, with people mixing the story with some folklore and horror stories.
Following the report, on November 16th, 2016, it was reported that a VK group administrator had been detained by police for urging children to commit suicide.
The name "Blue Whale" was made to represent the game because the animal frequently beached and dies, frequently linked to suicide.
Some other reports however, suggested that the name may come from a song by the Russian rock band Lumen, whose opening lines are "Why scream / When no one hears / What we're talking about?", which features a "huge blue whale" that "can't break through the net."
In short, the Blue Whale is best known in culture, as a twisted suicide challenge that targets vulnerable teens into killing themselves. As of 2016, there were about 130 deaths that linked to the game. The game can reach tens through social-media channels like Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube, as well as texting
The game was said to be invented by Philipp Budeikin, a former psychology student who was expelled from his university.
He stated that the purpose of the game was to "cleanse society" of "biological waste," by pushing people whom he deemed as having no value, to commit suicide.
Although originally claiming innocence and said that the challenge was him to "just having fun", Budeikin was arrested and held in Kresty Prison, Saint Petersburg.
In May 2016, he pled guilty to "inciting at least 16 teenage girls to commit suicide".
He was later convicted on two counts of inciting suicide of a minor.
Budeikin's arrest led to Russian suicide prevention legislation and renewed world-wide concern over the phenomenon.
In June 2017, police arrested a Moscow resident Ilya Sidorov under suspicion of being one of Blue Whale game administrators. In June 2018, Russian financial analyst Nikita Nearonov was arrested for allegedly masterminding the Blue Whale game.
Reported cases include in Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, Georgia, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Tunisia, United States of America, Uruguay and Venezuela. The game also caused significant concerns in Western Europe, including France and the United Kingdom.
While there were cases of suicides involving youngsters, facts surrounding this phenomenon are not clear.
Many suggested that the Blue Whale Challenge was originally a sensationalized hoax. Many however, believe that the phenomenon is the main driver that led to instances of imitative self-harming and copycat groups, exposing youngsters to harassment and cyberbullying, as well as online shaming and worse.
Because of this internet safety organizations across the world have reacted to the phenomenon by giving general advice to parents and educators on suicide prevention, mental health awareness, and online safety in advance of the next incarnation of cyberbullying.
Due to the phenomenon, the film Search Out was made in 2020.
The South Korean thriller film that was written and directed by Kwak Jeong, tells a story of a trainee policeman, a job seeker and a hacker who teamed up to find out the person who started the Blue Whale Challenge that led to a woman's suicide.