A new game has arisen online for today’s teenagers, revolving around a blue whale and suicide.
Shockingly in Russia, 130 teenagers in Russia have taken their lives since November of 2015 through this new and deadly online game, known as the “blue whale.” Inspired by images of blue whales washed up on beaches, teenagers are now being encouraged to take their lives at the end of a 50 day long “game.”
Reports from Russia state that many of these children are urged to cut the shape of a whale on their wrist or leg. “I am your personal whale,” one wrote on an online site.” “I will help you take the game all the way to the end. The last day is the end of the game. If you die, you win. If you don’t, we will help you. Are you ready?”
Yet, Russia is not alone. In a disturbing trend, teenagers are increasingly turning to social media to commit suicide.
In May of 2016, a French teenager committed suicide while streaming it live on Periscope, as she threw herself in front of a commuter train. In late December of 2016, a 12 year old from Georgia, in the United States, also live streamed her suicide, this time on Live.Me. In January of 2017, a 14 year old live streamed her suicide on Facebook Live, while she was placed in a foster care home.
Perhaps one of the most alarming trends online is that of the pro-suicide sites that can easily be found on the internet through websites, chat rooms, and even with videos on Youtube. These sites offer suggestions on how to commit suicide, or as one site put it, “to find the final exit”. Online users can find suggestions on how to kill themselves while asleep, in front of others, in the privacy of a bedroom, or even through the use of over the counter medication.
In a response to the increasing number of online suicides, Facebook stated in March that the popular online site will integrate real-time suicide prevention tools into Facebook Live. Along with this, the site will also offer live-chat support from crisis support organizations, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line through the popular Facebook Messenger. Following this, Facebook is also looking at technology which will allow the site to identify warning signs of self-harm and suicide in comments and posts that appear on their site.
For those children who are suffering through great bouts of depression, online sites offer advice and suggestions from “pro-suicide experts,” as well as from others who try to encourage the depressed victims to end their lives. Adding additional confusion to these potential victims is the fact the many of these sites suggest that suicide is a positive solution to their problems, or even a spiritual release to their pain and struggle.
For that child who has known a life of pain, of abuse, of neglect, and of confusion, these sites may be the only release they can find to end a short life full of suffering.
Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 14 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 50 children come through their home. He is a consultant to legal firms and foster care agencies, as well as a international speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system. He is the author of several foster care books, including Keeping Foster Children Safe Online, and writes for several publications, including Fostering Families Today. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.