Terrifying online game 'Blue Whale' ends with teens killing themselves

I recently watched "Nerve," a movie about an underground online game which challenges players to accept a series of online dares, which increasingly get more dangerous. One criticism I have heard about this movie is that it's "far-fetched." But, the truth is, there is a very similar game being played online among teens. And this game's final "dare" is for the player to take his or her own life.

CNN reports that this "game," called the Blue Whale Challenge, is administered by an online curator and, during a 50-day span, participants are given daily tasks to accomplish that grow in intensity — from the simple "draw a blue whale" to "cut symbols into your arms and legs" — and to submit photographic evidence. One girl, who survived a suicide attempt, said that if players want to quit the game, the curator will threaten to come after them or their families.

This doesn't sound real, does it? It sounds like the theme of a horror movie. But the Blue Whale, a challenge which allegedly began in Russia two years ago, is linked to approximately 80 deaths across the world, CNN reports.

The latest victim of the game is Isaiah Gonzalez, a Texas teen who was found hanging in his bedroom closet with his cell phone propped up to livestream his death, reports the Washington Post. Isaiah's death is one of two in the United States reportedly linked to the game — the first, a 16-year-old girl in Atlanta whose mother wanted her identity to remain anonymous.

Isaiah's sister Scarlett Cantu-Gonzales said the family found out his death was related to the Blue Whale Challenge because he had been sending pictures of his completed tasks to his friends, who hadn't told anyone because they thought he was joking.

"If one of them would have said something, one of them would have called us, he would have been alive,” she said.

If someone talks or hints at suicide, take it seriously! No matter what! Sure, maybe they are joking, and they'll be pissed for a little while that you told someone. Who cares? You could also be saving their lives.

Isaiah's dad Jorge posted on Facebook, "If you have not heard of what the Blue Whale Challenge is, please look it up and teach your kids about it. Don't just talk to them. ... Look at your kids' phones and social media."

To donate to help Isaiah's family pay for his funeral, visit their GoFundMe page.

The Center for Missing and Exploited Children encourages parents to report activity which could be related to the Blue Whale Challenge, even if they don't have enough information to go to the police.

Steve Higgins of HiggyPop.com has been writing about the challenge since March of this year. And he said the most concerning thing is how many teens commented on his blog post, wanting to know how to join the Blue Whale Challenge. Higgins believes the Blue Whale Challenge is a myth and doesn't really exist — that the suicides are a result of copycats. But, even if it isn't real, still, it's sad that many teenagers want to join and want to use the Blue Whale Challenge as an excuse to end their lives. The blogger added a fake "start the game" button on the page and said 9.6 percent of readers clicked the button and 534 people commented why they wanted to take part in the challenge.

Higgins wrote, "I was a bit disturbed by the amount of teens visiting my pages and saying they wanted to play the game. The problem is, if teens are actively searching for this game, sooner or later they're going to run into some sicko who will take advantage of that."

In response, he decided to create the "Pink Whale Challenge." People can sign up, using their email addresses, and everyday for a week, they will be sent anti-Blue Whale challenges, like "Write down five things you like about yourself," "Buy yourself your favorite treat," or "Make a friend laugh, don't give up until you succeed."

Suicide is not a game. It's not something you do to gain more followers on social media. Your life isn't a movie or a cartoon where, if you jump off a cliff like Wile E. Coyote, your pancake body will magically regenerate. Suicide is final. It's forever. There's no coming back to graduate from high school, go on to college, get a job, get married, or whatever life has in store for you. Suicide is ending your "movie" early, before you get to the good part. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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