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Blue whale game

The *Blue Whale Game* (Russian
: Синий кит,translit.
 "Siniy kit"), also known as "Blue Whale Challenge", is an social network phenomenon
 that is claimed to exist in several countries. The game reportedly consists of a series of tasks assigned to players by administrators over a 50-day period, with the final challenge requiring the player to commit suicide
.[1]
[2]

Blue Whale was first reported in Russia in 2013 with "F57", a group on the VKontakte
 social network. Philipp Budeikin, a former psychology
student who was expelled from his university, claimed that he invented the game, stating his purpose was to 'cleanse' society by pushing to suicide those he deemed as having no value.[3]
[4]

In Russia in 2016, Blue Whale came into broader use among teenagers after a journalist brought attention to it through an article that linked many unrelated suicide victims to the Blue Whale, creating a wave of moral panic
 in Russia.[5]
 Later, Budeikin was arrested and pled guilty to "inciting at least 16 teenage girls to commit suicide", leading to Russian suicide prevention
 legislation and renewed world-wide concern over the Blue Whale phenomenon.[3]

Structure
'Blue Whale' is based on the relationship between the challengers (also called players or participants) and the administrators.[6]
[7]
 It involves a series of duties given by the administrators that players must complete, usually one per day, some of which involve self-mutilation
.[8]
 Some tasks can be given in advance, while others can be passed on by the administrators on that day, the last task beingsuicide
.[9]
[10]
Reported casesArgentina
In San Juan Province, Argentina
, a 14-year-old boy was admitted to intensive care after claiming on social media he was participating in Blue Whale.[11]
Brazil
Several news reports have appeared on Brazilian media linking cases of child self harm and suicide with Blue Whale, and police have several ongoing investigations, although as yet none has been officially confirmed.[12]
[13]
[14]
 Altogether, eight Brazilian states had cases of suicide and mutilation suspected to be connected with the game.[15]
Bulgaria
The first news about Blue Whale appeared in mid-February 2017. The Safer Internet Centre, established under the Safer Internet plus Programme of the European Commission, responded quickly. "(T)his sensationalistic story was inflated by a number of our clickbait websites creating a wave of panic among parents", Centre Coordinator Georgi Apostolov reported. "We decided not to initiate contact directly with the media since this would attract additional interest and could mislead the public into believing the story to be somehow true. As the hype was magnified by thousands sharing the story on the social networks, we just published a warning on our website and spread the link in comments under all shared in Facebook articles and posts. Then the mainstream media themselves started asking us for interviews and quoting our conclusions that it evidently was a hoax."[16]
 Two discussion groups about suicide opened on Facebook, but were quickly reported and deleted. The diffusion of the viral news was stopped within two weeks. Later, when a sensationalist piece in the Romanian newspaper "Gandul" caused five more articles in Bulgaria reporting the challenge as real, media again circulated SIC's positions and the hoax was stopped immediately.Chile
Media in Chile have reported three cases of children suspected of involvement with Blue Whale. In Antofagasta
 a mother reported to the police that her 12-year-old daughter had 15 cuts on her arm that formed the design of a whale. After being interviewed by police officers, she confessed that she followed game administrator's instructions while playing this game.[17]
 A 13-year-old girl in Padre Las Casas
 claimed to have played the game along with three other friends. The girl reached the tenth stage, also making cuts in her arms[18]
 and an 11-year-old boy in Temuco
accepted an invitation to join the game onFacebook
 from an unidentified woman, but declined to participate after being contacted by a profile named "Ballena Azul".[19]
China
In Ningbo
 City, Zhejiang
, a suicide group was founded by a 10-year-old girl who posted several photos of her self-mutilation related to the Blue Whale.[20]
 Since then authorities began to monitor mentions of the game on forums and live broadcasts.[21]
India
A 16-year-old boy from Kerala
 in Southern India was reported to have committed suicide on 26 July 2017, after playing the online Blue Whale game. Hailing from the city of Thiruvananthapuram
, it was said he ended his life after allegedly completing the tasks of this deadly game, according to information provided by his mother to the media.[22]

On 10 August 2017, a Class VII student in the city of Indore
, State of Madhya Pradesh
, was pulled away by a group of students, before he could take the final suicide leap, off the third floor of theChamali Devi Public School
. The boy apparently recorded the whole 50 stages of the game, in his school diary.[23]

On 10 August 2017, a 14-year-old boy on the way to finish the Blue Whale challenge was rescued by the Maharashtra Police
, who intercepted the bus in which he was traveling to Pune
, from his home town of Solapur
. After the boy went missing, his parents started enquiring with his friends when they came to know that he was playing the Blue Whale Challenge. [24]

On 12 August 2017, a tenth grade student from Anandpur, West Midnapore
 district of West Bengal
allegedly committed suicide as a result of playing the game. His body was discovered in the bathroom, with his face covered with a plastic bag tied around his neck by a cotton cord.[25]

On 27 August 2017, a 13 year old class VI student in the town of Maudaha
, Hamirpur district
 in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
, hung himself, after playing the Blue Whale game. According to the police, the boy had his father's phone in which the game, that directs the player to commit suicide after 50 challenges, was on, when the dead body was taken. [26]

On 30 August 2017, a 19 year old college student in Madurai
, Tamil Nadu
 committed suicide by hanging himself. According to the police, the boy had an image of a blue whale along with the text "Blue Whale" carved on his arm. [27]
 Upon scanning the mobile phone of the victim, the local police was startled to find a Whatsapp
 group of 75 members in Madurai District
 who are actively playing the game. [28]

On 3 September 2017 a class XI student fromDamoh
, Madhya Pradesh committed suicide by jumping in front of a running train after alledgedly playing the Blue Whale game. School friends said that he used to play the game and had asked them to play too.[29]
Italy
In Italy, press coverage of Blue Whale first appeared on 3 June 2016, in the newspaper "La Stampa
", which described the challenge as "a bad joke".[30]

The debunking site BUTAC reported the total lack of evidence supporting the existence of the game. On 14 May 2017, a TV report by Le Iene about the Blue Whale on the national channel Italia 1[31]
linked the challenge to an unconnected suicide in Leghorn. The report showed several suicide scenes, mostly from videos on LiveLeak depicting adults unrelated to the challenge, incorrectly describing the footage as evidence of teenagers playing the game. The report interviewed a schoolmate of the Leghorn teenager, two mothers of Russian girls who supposedly took part in the game, and the founder of the Russian Center for the safety of children from internet crimes. Following the report, coverage of the challenge in the Italian media increased, with many outlets describing it as real. There was a sharp rise in Google searches for the challenge, and some panic.
On 15 and 16 May, newspapers announced the arrest of Budeikin, without saying that it happened months before. His unconfirmed statements about his supposed victims being "genetical rubbish" were reported as real. Paolo Attivissimo, a journalist and debunker of hoaxes, described the game as "a death myth dangerously exaggerated by sensationalist journalism". Police received calls from terrified parents and teachers, and there were reports of teenagers taking part in the challenge. These included several cases of self-mutilation and attempted suicide. Most reports were considered to be false or exaggerated. Alleged participants came from all over Italy: Ravenna,[32]
 Brescia[33]
 and Siracusa.[34]
 On the 22nd the Polizia Postale declared that they had received 40 alarms. On the 24th this number was increased to 70. On its website the Polizia Postale defines Blue Whale as "a practice that seems to possibly come from Russia" and offers advice to parents and teenagers.[35]
 Several alleged cases have since been described by newspapers.[36]
Kenya
In Nairobi County
 a student in Kiambu County
, had played the Blue Whale challenge. He committed suicide on 3 May. He hanged himself on the balcony of a hotel owned by his grandfather in the city centre.[37]
Pakistan
On September 13, 2017, Pakistan reported it's first two victims from the province of KPK.[38]
Portugal
An 18-year-old girl, was admitted to hospital with mutilations on her body in Albufeira
 after she threw herself from an overpass to the railway line. Police, parents and friends said that the girl had been motivated to do so by a person on the Internet named as "Blue Whale".[39]
 In an interview with RTP
, she said that she felt alone, and lacking affection.[40]
Russia
In March 2017, authorities in Russia
 were investigating approximately 130 separate cases of suicide related to the phenomenon. In February a 15-year-old and 16-year-old threw themselves off the top of a 14-story building
 in Irkutsk
, Siberia
after completing 50 tasks sent to them. Before they killed themselves together, They left messages on their pages on social networks
.[41]
[42]
 Also in February, a 15 year old was in critical condition after throwing herself out of an apartment and falling on snow-covered ground in the town ofKrasnoyarsk
, also in Siberia.[43]

On 11 May 2017, Russian media reported that Philipp Budeikin "plead guilty to inciting teenagers to suicide," having described his victims as "biological waste" and claiming he was "cleansing society." He was held at Kresty Prison in St Petersburg with charges of "inciting at least 16 teenage girls to kill themselves."[4]

On 26 May 2017, Russian Duma
 (parliament) passed a bill introducing criminal responsibility for creating pro-suicide groups on social media, in the wake of 130 teen deaths linked to the Blue Whale suicide challenge.[44]
 On 7 June 2017, PresidentPutin
 signed a law imposing criminal penalties for inducing minors to suicide.[45]
 The law imposes a maximum punishment of six years in prison.
On 8 June 2017, Ilya Sidorov, 26, one of the game's administrators, was arrested in Moscow.[46]
[47]

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