The Blue Whale Challenge is a scary social “game” that targets preteens and teens all over the world. It is believed that the challenge originated in Russia as it is primarily played on popular Russian social media site, VKontakte, or VK for short. VK is known as the largest online social media and social networking service in Europe. It is available in many languages, including English, which may be how some kids in the United States and other English-speaking countries are participating.
In recent months, the “game” has also been available on various mobile apps, many of which have been removed from the internet.
Other names for the “game” include “A Silent House,” “A Sea Of Whales,” and “Wake Me Up At 4:20am.”
Here is what you need to know:
1. At Least 2 Teens in the U.S. Are Believed to Have Committed Suicide After Completing the Blue Whale Challenge
There have been at least two deaths by suicide that are believed to be results of the Blue Whale Challenge in the United States.
Fifteen-year-old Isaiah Gonzalez from Houston, Texas, committed suicide on Saturday, July 8. The teen was found hanged in his closet and he filmed his death using his cell phone. According to reports, Gonzalez broadcast his death on Facebook Live.
“Next to the teen they found a cellphone propped on top of a shoe, broadcasting the act using social media,” KSAT-TV reported.
Another death in Atlanta, Georgia, has been blamed on the Blue Whale Challenge. According to CBS North Carolina, the family of a 16-year-old girl believes that she killed herself after participating in the 50-day challenge. According to the girl’s brother, she had been drawing things that looked similar to blue whale skeletons.
“So these were paintings that she drew that were displayed at an art show at school. At first look, you don’t think anything of it, you just think of an abstract painting. If you were to Google ‘what a skeleton of a blue whale looks like,’ it has a tremendous resemblance,” the girl’s brother told the media.
Her family has asked that her name remain private.
Teen deaths around the world have been linked to the Blue Whale Challenge, though not many have been confirmed. According to the Russian media, it is believed that the social media “game” was responsible for the suicide deaths of about 130 children from November 2015 to April 2016.
2. Here Are the Rules & the 50 Tasks
The Blue Whale Challenge lasts 50 days. Each day, the participant is told to complete a task. While there has been some variance, the tasks that have been translated are all pretty similar. On the 50th day of the challenge, the participant is encouraged to take his or her own life.
Every time you complete a task, you must send photographic or video proof to an administrator or “curator.”
Below are the 50 tasks.
1. Carve with a razor “f57” on your hand, send a photo to the curator.
2. Wake up at 4.20 a.m. and watch psychedelic and scary videos that curator sends you.
3. Cut your arm with a razor along your veins, but not too deep, only 3 cuts, send a photo to the curator.
4. Draw a whale on a sheet of paper, send a photo to curator.
5. If you are ready to “become a whale”, carve “YES” on your leg. If not– cut yourself many times (punish yourself)
6. Task with a cipher.
7. Carve “f40” on your hand, send a photo to curator.
8. Type “#i_am_whale (rus. #я_кит) in your VKontakte status.
9. You have to overcome your fear.
10. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to a roof (the higher the better)
11. Carve a whale on your hand with a razor, send a photo to curator.
12. Watch psychedelic and horror videos all day.
13. Listen to music that “they” (curators) send you.
14. Cut your lip
15. Poke your hand with a needle many times
16. Do something painful to yourself, make yourself sick
17. Go to the highest roof you can find, stand on the edge for some time.
18. Go to a bridge, stand on the edge
19. Climb up a crane or at least try to do it
20. The curator checks if you are trustworthy
21. Have a talk “with a whale” (with another player like you or with a curator) in Skype
22. Go to a roof and sit on the edge with your legs dangling
23. Another task with a cipher.
24. Secret task
25. Have a meeting with a “whale”
26. The curator tells you the date of your death and you have to accept it
27. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to rails (visit any railroad that you can find)
28. Don’t talk to anyone all day
29. Make a vow that “you’re a whale”
30-49. Everyday you wake up at 4:20 a.m., watch horror videos, listen to music that “they” send you, make 1 cut on your body per day, talk “to a whale.”
50. Jump off a high building. Take your life.
3. Twitter Is Filled With #IAmAWhale Posts
If you do a quick search for the hashtag #IAmAWhale, the results are alarming. There are more than a few people that have used the hashtag along with #BlueWhaleChallenge, making it known that the two are related.
People have also uploaded various photos to Twitter and Instagram showing that they’ve completed the tasks. There are quite a few photos of people that have carved a whale into their arm using a razor blade.
What is more alarming, perhaps, is that people appear to be seeking out the “curator,” asking to be found. Check out some of the disturbing tweets below.
4. Schools Across the Country Have Been Warning Parents About This New ‘Game’
In recent months, schools all over the United States have warned parents about the Blue Whale Challenge. One school in Natick, Massachusetts, warned parents just last week. The town’s Superintendent, Peter Sanchioni, spoke out about the challenge in an effort to raise awareness.
“I want to make families aware of a new social media app that I just learned about which could have serious implications. The Blue Whale Challenge is an app that instructs its participants (many preteens) to carry out increasingly dangerous tasks and self-harm over 50 days. Users are encouraged to tag friends on social media and challenge them to participate in the game,” Sanchioni said.
According to NBC26, school officials in Denver, Colorado, have “drafted a letter to parents, warning them about the game.”
Baldwin County Public Schools in Alabama sent out a warning via Facebook on May 9.
Back in April, a similar warning went out in the UK. It was posted on Twitter by a spokesperson from Devon and Cornwall Police Force.
5. Social Media Sites Have Been Doing Their Best to Help People Who May Want to Play
Social media platforms such as Instagram have been posting alerts like the one above. If you search “Blue Whale Challenge” or “I Am A Whale,” you may get a similar message. However, the site will still allow you to look at posts containing those words.