Facing the Blue Whale challenge

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“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”

-Carl Jung

The suicide game or the Blue Whale challenge has created a sense of panic among parents. The first case of suicide of a 14-year-old student was reported from Mumbai. The epidemic reportedly has reached Assam and Northeast, with the first case of an attempted suicide in Guwahati was reported in the last week. A 19-year-old MBA Assamese student of Pondicherry University, Bulu Dey Bori hanged himself from a tree near his dormitory in the wee hours of Friday. A Google Trends report suggested that the state is ranked second among states in the country for searches and downloads of the game of progressively dangerous dares. The game, which owes its invention to a Russian psychology student, targets only those weak souls who can be easily manipulated. Budeikin, who is now in jail, claims to have invented the game to get rid of ‘biological waste’ from the society. Even after his arrest, the game is on, thanks to some unscrupulous developers. And one of them is a 17-year-old Russian girl who was arrested in August last. If one goes by the reports made available by Russian police, this girl initially played the game but did not complete the challenge of suicide and subsequently turned into an administrator. The game has got its name from one of the fifty disturbing challenges asked to complete in 50 days, where players are told to draw a blue whale on a piece of paper, and then asked to carve the whale onto their body.

What exactly is this ‘blue whale challenge’ now?  It is not a game but an ugly and nonsensical phenomenon where sadistic administrators of the game engage vulnerable teens in conversations and push them towards a dead end where suicide is the last resort. However, a challenge merely cannot incite an individual towards suicide. There are other factors involved. Depression, emotional instability and loneliness accounts to various psychological conditions. It was a phenomenon common in the western countries, where teenagers’ need for personal space lead to the lack of an emotional anchor and ultimately to depression. India, as per reports has seen the highest number of searches related to the blue whale challenge, hinting at the vile curiosity that is ultimately leading to this social endemic and apparently the North Eastern region is one of the most vulnerable regions in the country compared to the rest.

The only way to spread this plague is by raising awareness and educating the parents and teachers on watching out for the signs in their kids. Parents must monitor their children’s social media activity and keep a close tab on their social behaviour, signs of violence, online activities and unusual injuries on their bodies. Parents should devote more time to their wards and engage them in outdoor activities. Upward mobility among the working section of the society has led to a kind of emotional detachment among parents and their children. Phones and internet turn out to be the only reliable companion for such children, leading to a baneful dependency on technology. Self introspection and re-creation of a healthy atmosphere in the family and society is becoming the need of the hour.

 

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