Death is feared. Still, the grim reaper comes knocking one day or the other. But, we do everything to delay that day. Our hospital corridors are chock full of relatives. The patient beds never get cold. As much as it represents a healthcare system that’s not up to the challenge of a population this large, it also shows how much we like to live. Then why play games with death?

What are games of death?

Games of death are exactly what they sound like. Like in a racing game, to win, you’d have to be the first to finish the race. In a death game, you’d have to die. These are online challenges, with chilling step by step methodical instructions. As in any game, there are levels to clear. And the final level would be death. The one making the news recently, is the infamous Blue Whale Challenge!

Why would anybody attempt it?

While we may look back on our teenage years with a sweetness that only nostalgia could bring in, we all admit, it was a confusing and rough time too. Most teenagers are trying to figure out a life that’s changing too fast. And not everyone is lucky to have a support system. Experts say, games like the Blue Whale Challenge attract those teens who have lost interest in general. They are filled with a sense of incompetence and know that they are different from the rest of the kids. Once inside the game, the gore and danger of the game further shuts them down from getting any help. From there on, it’s a rabbit hole.

Blue Whale Challenge

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These games target a specific audience, teenagers. Internet has allowed a lot latent anger, hurt and any other expression to flow freely along its superhighways. This becomes even more tempting when your expression is defying the prevalent social norms and you are given the cloak of anonymity. While some may argue nothing is ever private or anonymous, a teenager sitting in his room, bored, wouldn’t be worried about things like privacy. Just click on “Post as anonymous/ guest” and as far as he/she knows, it’s non traceable.

This makes being online a very safe place, while to the contrary it should send a signal of alarm.

What is Blue Whale Challenge?

It is a structured game running the length of fifty days. The administrators are the ones running the show. The players are given tasks, one a day, to be completed in a span of 50 days. The last day, is the day when the player is asked to end his/her life. The tasks range from something as harmless as listening to music to things like cutting oneself.

Who drove this death machine?

It started out as a group on a Russian social Networking website in the year 2013 and it wasn’t until 2015, that it claimed its first victim. Phillip Budeikin has claimed that he has invented the game. He is a former student of psychology, expelled from his university.

Why did he do it?

If you were anything like us and were wondering what justification could possibly be given to a heinous thing like that, here goes. The inventor’s reason behind this abomination was to purge the society of those who had no value, by pushing them to suicide.  This attempted purge resulted in various suicides all over the world.

Why are we only hearing about it now?

Although the news websites are teeming with the alleged inventor and his bone chilling claims, there is no way to verify if the same is accurate.  There is a section of the internet that is occupied by cults. Sadly, suicide cults are not very new. They exist.

It is difficult to draw one on one relationships between suicides and the death games, because teenagers are known to take their lives in times of hardships, when their family life is dire, they have issues with peers or if they live in fear of physical or mental harm and violence. How much of it drives them to challenges such as the Blue Whale Challenge is a question that remains unanswered.

This story was picked up from a Russian magazine, which carried the interview of the alleged inventor of the game. Consequently, a lot of context went missing and only the sensation remained.

While, one can’t attribute all teenage suicides to this game, the fact remains that this challenge, has taken lives and the effects are haunting.

India and the Blue Whale Challenge

The nation took a jolt when suddenly, news started pouring in of teenagers jumping off roofs and tying plastic bags around their heads with cords. The name ‘Blue Whale Challenge” started scrolling on all news channels with a warning message playing in the background.  The mother of a 16 year old teen from Kerala, expresses shock and grief and heartrendingly narrates the strange behaviour her son exhibited ( which we would later learn to be the step by step instructions in the game ) before he committed suicide.

Blue Whale Challenge

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Slowly, the challenge has permeated India and has taken many young lives.

Sadly, the deaths have still not stopped. As recent as 27th August, the police took away the dead body of a 13 year old school kid, who hung himself after completing all levels of the game.

What are we doing to stop this?

The government of India has asked major search engines to pull down all the links leading to the website to stop the rapid advancing cyber epidemic.

Other online challenges like the Blue Whale Challenge

The Deodorant Challenge – A challenge asking teenagers to film themselves spraying deodorant on their bodies, results into severe burns.

Space Monkey – A challenge that promises a euphoric high with choking. Participants are filmed choking themselves to get that “high”, but, not surprisingly and very tragically, it has resulted into many deaths.

The salt and Ice challenge – This horrific challenge asks the participants to sprinkle salt on their bodies and place an ice cube on top of it. What this does is, further lowers the temperature of ice cube to sub zero, and severe burns result from this. Then, the act is filmed and the longest to endure, wins.

Being faced with a world, dismal with unequal opportunities, leads them down dark pathways. Let us all have a talk and emotionally be there for the teenagers around us. Let them know that they matter.

 

Our hearts go out to the parents who have lost their children and our prayers remain with the teens that were claimed by this game of death.

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