A macabre suicide “game” believed to have caused the deaths of over a hundred teens and children in Russia has claimed two more victims in the United States, according to their families.
Isaiah Gonzales, 15, of San Antonio, Texas, was found dead by hanging in his bedroom closet on Saturday morning, according to the Daily News.
The teen’s family says they believe Isaiah had been playing the “Blue Whale Challenge” in the weeks leading up to his tragic death. He was found with his phone recording the suicide, broadcasting it on social media.
The Blue Whale Challenge is an elusive game believed to exist in the dark corners of the internet, if it exists at all — investigators have not been able to verify the game’s legitimacy.
Players are reportedly assigned a daily task for 50 days, that get gradually more harmful, leading to the final task of suicide. A Reddit user who claimed to have played the game earlier this year said they found their dog hanging from a tree in their yard after they tried to quit the game. CrimeOnline cannot verify any of the claims made in the Reddit post.
“It talks about Satanic stuff and stuff like that,” Isaiah’s father Jorge Gonzales told News 4 San Antonio.
Isaiah’s sister told the Daily News she recalled her brother carving a number into his arm as part of a task. Players are reportedly required to send photographic or video evidence of their completed tasks to the game organizers.
The family says that despite the game, Isaiah was not acting differently and continued to make plans for the future. Not long before he died, the teen had joined the ROTC program at his high school.
“We had no signs at all,” Jorge Gonzales told the Daily News. “Isaiah was Isaiah.”
It appears that Mr. Gonzales was not aware of how deeply his son was involved in the game until after Isaiah died.
He is now warning other parents to make sure their children don’t fall prey to the Blue Whale Challenge like he believes his son did.
“Look at [their phone] because you can catch it,” he said.
But his warning was too late to save another teen whose family also believes she is dead because of the Blue Whale Challenge.
The 15-year-old girl from the Atlanta area, who has not been identified, reportedly died of suicide after playing the game. A CNN interview with members of her family does not indicate how the girl took her own life. But like Isaiah Gonzalez, there did not appear to be anything else going on in her life that would have driven her to suicide.
Her brother described her to CNN as “happy. And as my little sister that I love, and I miss.”
The family moved to the United States from Bulgaria 15 years ago, and the teen girl did not have any communication with friends or relatives there that her family was aware of. Her brother pointed out to CNN a painting his sister had made of a Blue Whale, with accompanying text in Russian.
But he was not aware his sister could speak or read Russian.
“It’s a real thing,” the brother said. “I lost my sister to it, or at least part of it. I would say by the looks of everything we found it’s a major part of it.”
The two deaths are believed to be the first confirmed deaths in the U.S. directly connected to the Blue Whale Challenge, but earlier this year the Baldwin County Public School district in Georgia issued a warning to parents on social media, reporting that the sinister game had made its way to two high schools in the district, but there were no deaths reported.
In response to the Facebook warning, some commenters accused the school district of spreading fake news.
Since May, two people have been arrested in Russia on charges they pressured teenagers into suicide.
Feature photo: Facebook