The Blue Whale Challenge has been dominating news and Internet stories recently, as families publicly share that they believe their children died after participating in the challenge. The challenge involves 50 tasks, given online or through text or apps, that eventually culminate in a teen committing suicide. The challenge began in Russia and there’s still debate about whether it has really spread to the United States or not.
If you’re concerned that a loved one may be involved in the challenge, there are a few signs that you can look for.
- Sharing social media posts with a hashtag #f57 or #f40 or #ImaWhale, or posts about looking for a whale
- Waking up at 4:20 to watch scary videos or do other unusual tasks
- Scratching a sketch of a whale onto their body
- Making deep cuts on their arms or scratching “yes” on their body
- Standing on the edge of a roof or bridge (especially if this is unusual for your child)
- Taking photos of any of these activities to send to others
- Physically hurting themselves
- Extreme changes in eating or sleeping habits
The signs listed above are from the list of 50 tasks that originally circulated. It’s possible that some of the tasks have since changed. In addition, not every activity by itself is necessarily a warning sign. For example, 4:20 is also popular among marijuana proponents, and someone might wake up at 4:20 just for fun because of that connection. However, a combination of these activities could be a warning sign. (And, of course, if your loved one is cutting themselves, it would be a good idea to seek professional counseling on how you can best help them.)
If you’re concerned about any of these signs, or just find yourself becoming overly worried about someone you care about, talk to a counselor. There’s no shame in seeking help, and a trained psychologist or psychiatrist can help you differentiate between which signs you should truly be concerned about and what activities are more “normal” for certain ages.
Finally, read through all 50 tasks listed in this story. If you see multiple signs that your child or loved one may be taking part in any of the tasks listed, talk to your loved one and seek professional help.
If you or someone you love is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24 hours every day: 1-800-273-8255. An online chat is also available, or you can text HOME to the National Suicide Hotline at 741741 (only available in the U.S.)