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WARNING: The Blue Whale Game!

There is a dangerous game being widely reported on the Internet that parents need to be aware of:  The Blue Whale Game.

The Blue Whale Game is a sick suicide challenge that appears to goad vulnerable teens into killing themselves.  This game, allegedly invented by Russian Phillip Budeikin, 22, came to the attention of the English-speaking world earlier this year after originating on the Russian VK (VKontakte) social media network.  In the game the player makes contact with an “administrator” and accepts the “challenge” to complete 50 assignments in 50 days.  The last challenge requires the player to commit suicide.

There are many questions about this terrible game, but law enforcement, schools, and the media are talking about it, so we will, too!

A quick search of the Internet reveals numerous  articles and news reports about The Blue Whale Game.  The fact that educators and law enforcement officials around the world take this threat seriously and are warning parents speaks volumes.  I’ve personally seen emails from local school districts that warns about The Blue Whale Game (along with Netflix’ “13 REASONS WHY” series).

News organizations report that the game originated in 2013 but came to Russian authorities’ notice in 2015 after the suicide of a teenager who left a picture of a blue whale online.  More and more suicides were connected to the game and authorities began to issue warnings and notices.  While some reports claim 130 suicides related to The Blue Whale Game in Russia, alone, this has not been confirmed.  (It should be noted that the rate of youth suicide in Russia is 3X the world average.)

The game reportedly began on the VK (VKontakte) social network in Russia.  “Administrators” or “Curators” would recruit players online who were members of  “death groups” or “suicide groups”.  They would then groom their targets over a 50 day period with a specific list of challenges.  This list ended with the player committing suicide.  Each day the player would be given a different task.  They were also required to submit a photo or video of the completed tasks to prove their obedience.  Communications  were via closed/secret online groups.  When they started the game players were told there was no way out.  Those that left the game have reported threats against their families.

This very sick and disturbing game plays on the players’ teenage angst and emotions, especially teenage fears.  The need to wield power and to control draws the “administrators” who use the 50 “challenges” to gain and exert control over the player.  Not every teen is susceptible, but enough have fit the desired profile that Budeikin sought to fill.  It is now reported that he has been charged with inciting suicide in 15 cases.  Budeikin is quoted in press accounts to have confessed, saying that he was cleansing society of biological waste.  He is reported to still be in jail.

This highlights the need for parents to be alert to their child’s online activities as well as their behavior and moods.  I know, teenage moods constantly change.  But, there are resources for parents to help learn the signs that their child might be suicidal or have unhealthy interests in death or self-harm:

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at:

 1-800-273-8255

If you feel the danger is imminent you should contact your local police department or take the child to the nearest Emergency Room.

Some articles on the Internet have said that this could all be an urban legend.  Snopes can neither confirm or disprove the many reports (see below).  TV stations and other news organizations are working to verify all of this.  Even if story of the origin of the game is not completely accurate the fact remains that this has entered our national discussion.  Tragically, youth are committing suicide around the world and authorities are indeed are reported to be connecting some of the suicides with the Blue Whale Game.  It is an established fact that teens often commit suicide in a “copycat” fashion so some may be influenced to self-harm merely by the news reports on the game.  In the U.S. there are already reports of the game being identified in schools, such as this report from Baldwin County ISD in Alabama.

It is said that: “Where there is smoke, there is fire”.  These items indicate that there is, indeed, a fire to consider:

  • Phillip Budeikin HAS been arrested and charged with soliciting suicide
  • Many national and local law enforcement organizations  are issuing warnings…worldwide
  • Instagram has even put up warnings on the search results for Blue Whale related searches and hashtags

So, what should a parent do…or not do?  

First off, don’t panic.  This is definitely a serious matter. But we, as parents, need to calmly react with wisdom and control.  This is not something to warrant confiscating all of your children’s electronics!  Plus, if a child is involved with this game, or is dealing with suicidal thoughts, having a parent “go gonzo” about this could push them further down the road to self harm.

Second, become educated and aware. Share the sites, above, and discuss this with your spouse/partner (if you have one) or with your children’s other parent if he/she does not live in the same household.

Third, talk with your teens and pre-teens about online bullying and control.  Discuss how this is a dangerous mind control game.  You might want to  talk about this in the manner of “if any of your friends are doing this you need to help them by telling an adult.”  Emphasize how it could save a life.  Let this also be a good example about not trusting folks online that you don’t REALLY know.

Lastly, if you have a child that is in treatment for mental illness (depression, PTSD, previous suicidal issues, etc.) immediately consult with their doctor or counselor about this deadly game.  Seek their counsel as to the best way to apply this information to your family.

Over the next few weeks you may see The Blue Whale Game addressed by your local police and/or school district.  Keep your ears open and listen carefully to what they say. Take the actions they suggest, but don’t panic.

Here are some of the better articles I have found about the game:

Lastly, know that your education and vigilance can make a huge difference, as in the case of this Barcelona family.

As parents, we must never stop learning…..

UPDATE (5/19/2017):  The Blue Whale discussions continue, especially in discussing whether it is a real game or a hoax.  As discussed in the  superb article at coolmomtech.org, there appears to be some legitimacy to the report of the game’s existence,  but there may also be valid reasons to question some of the sensational numbers that are mentioned in some articles.  So, as mentioned above, don’t panic, but be aware of what is going on in your child’s online life.


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