It sounds like an episode of Black Mirror, but it’s tragically real.
Two teenage girls have reportedly jumped to their deaths after playing the “Blue Whale” social media game.
According to UK newspaper The Sun, the game instructs players to cause themselves pain or discomfort over the course of 50 days with increasingly harmful assignments: Early on, players are reportedly instructed to watch horror movies and wake up very early in the morning; later, they are told to cut a shape of a blue whale into their bodies. The final instruction is for the player to take their own life.
— The Sun (@TheSun) March 3, 2017
And last week, two Russian teens reportedly did just that: Yulia Konstantinova, 15, and Veronika Volkova, 16, jumped to their deaths from a 14-story apartment building.
According to The Sun, the teens’ deaths are among 130 suicides in Russia since 2015 linked to the Blue Whale game. Just days before Yulia and Veronika committed suicide, a 14-year-old girl reportedly threw herself in front of a train.
But the reports of a direct link have been criticized as unsupported. According to Snopes.com, one Russian newspaper criticized another for claiming that the game alone caused teens to kill themselves, and argued that it was likely the teens were already suicidal before they began playing the game.
— Elite Daily (@EliteDaily) February 28, 2017
The Blue Whale imagery is believed to be a reference to whales that wash ashore. On the day before Yulia jumped to her death, she reportedly posted a photo of a blue whale on her Facebook page along with a chilling one-word message: “End.”
According to The Sun, suicides among teens had briefly dropped after the arrest last year of the apparent ringleader of the suicide game, 21-year-old Philipp Budeikin. But the trend seems to be popular again.
Russian investigators have reportedly launched an inquiry in the cause of the recent teen girl deaths, and mental health activists are calling for an investigation into how the game is able to influence its young players.
Photo: Facebook screenshot