Deadly 'Blue Whale Challenge' will only become more prevalent, expert says
Family suspects teen took his own life because of social media game
SAN ANTONIO – A social media dare that could turn deadly will only become more prevalent and parents need to be aware, says a child psychologist specializing in suicide and social media.
This comes after a teen took his own life in San Antonio this weekend, linked to a game called the "Blue Whale Challenge."
The family said they had no idea the 15-year-old was playing until after the act, finding him broadcasting his death through Social Media.
READ THE ORIGINAL STORY: SA father fears online game led son to commit suicide
"This is something you cannot look away from, it's too big. We're talking about death," Dr. Irv Loev said.
Loev said the alarming game is just now arriving from Europe.
The name is derived from the practice of beached whales being likened to suicide.
Predators recruit teens through social media.
A 16-year-old girl in Atlanta recently took her own life, taking a picture resembling one of the tasks the game's administrators assign over 50 days. She had messages in Russian.
The final assignment is suicide.
"It escalates, so you keep, you're challenging yourself against somebody else, to do something that's adventurous or risk taking, and a teenager doesn't have the ability to differentiate," Loev said.
The BBC reports a 21-year-old plead guilty in May for driving 16 girls to take their own lives.
"It gives them a sense of power to be in charge, and to get these kids behaving the way they are," Loev said of the administrators hooking teens into tasks.
The administrators can threaten to hurt the teens family or friends if he or she quits playing.
Loev said parents should be involved in their children's use of social media and cell phones.
"Take away the kids cell phone, they shouldn't be allowed to have it and just do whatever they want," Loev said.
Parents have red flags to look for.
Posts vary, but children looking to play will use hashtags on social media like #bluewhalechallenge, #curatorfindme, and #i_am_whale.
In messages and texts, the predators use phrases like "Do you want to play the game?" "There's no way back" and "Comply."
Loev said schools should look for competitive behavior between teens involving dangerous and self-harming tasks.
He also said teens should be involved in social activities, and avoid being isolated with technology.
"There's too much freedom given to kids that don't have the ability to have the right judgment, to avoid a terrible calamity like this," Loev said.
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