Emine Karadag, a 13-year-old girl from Turkey, is the latest victim of the Blue Whale Challenge. She died on January 21. She’s the latest in a tragic string of hundreds of deaths associated with the Blue Whale Challenge. Most of the suspect4d deaths are from outside the United States, but a few U.S. families say their loved ones died from the challenge too. (To see a list of all 50 tasks, please see Heavy’s story here.)
The Blue Whale Challenge is a sinister game that has been making the rounds on social media for years now, encouraging teens to undergo a series of 50 challenges that culminate in ultimately killing themselves. Snopes listed the game as unverified, but leaders of the game have been arrested in Russia.
Emine Karadag from Turkey Is the Newest Victim
Karadag used her father’s rifle to kill herself. The tragedy happened in the Seyhan district of Adana, Sputnik Turkey reported. She was found dead in her bed after shooting herself.
Karadag had three siblings, and her family had no idea anything was wrong. Her uncle, Mahmut Karadag, told Mirror: “There was not even a one in a million possibility that she would have done such a thing. She was a successful student too.”
Karadag’s uncle said she was playing the game on her mother’s phone. The family also found writings and photos that linked Karadag to the Blue Whale Challenge, including drawings of whales in her room, Mirror reported. She was part of a group that was participating in the game, her uncle said.
One statement in her notebook read, “Suicide is an escape. You will go against everybody, you will backfire. You will hang out on your own all the time… If needed, you will even swear not to talk at all. You will take your parents to a nursing home and you will visit them only once a year. Everybody will call you a ghost.”
The family also found a one-year list that Karadag had written called “One Year Before I Die.” This list included 25 tasks that matched the Blue Whale Challenge, Sputnik Turkey noted. Typically, the challenge involves 50 tasks that include self-harm, and participants are urged to continue through threats.
Americans Who May Have Died from the Blue Whale Challenge
Four American families have revealed to the public that they believe their children died as a result of the Blue Whale challenge. The families are warning other parents to be on the lookout for signs that their children may be participating.
Isaiah Gonzalez, 15
His mother, Angela Gonzalez, said that she believed he was assigned daily tasks for 50 days from a Blue Whale social media group. The tasks included actions like carving things into your arm, and he was threatened if he didn’t follow through.
Isaiah hung himself in a bedroom closet, with a cell phone nearby to film himself, his parents said. They said he was sending photos of his completed tasks to his friends, but his friends thought it was a joke, The Washington Post reported.
A fundraiser was created on GoFundMe to support Isaiah’s family.
A 16-Year-Old Girl from Atlanta, Georgia
Parents of a 16-year-old girl from Atlanta, Georgia, said they believed she killed herself because of the challenge, CNN reported. They kept her identity a secret for privacy reasons. The girl’s parents said that she drew paintings for an art show at school, and the paintings seemed to give clues that she was participating in the challenge. One of the paintings looked like the skeleton of a blue whale, her brother said.
Her mom said that some of the things her daughter did, such as stepping on a roof, seemed to coincide with tasks connected to the game. Because the tasks circulate in Facebook groups and in apps like Snapchat, it has been tough for authorities to nail down conclusive proof of the game’s existence.
Natasha Cadena, 32
Sandy Cadena of Wichita Falls is convinced that her daughter, Natasha, succumbed to the Blue Whale Challenge, USA Today reported. Natasha hung herself on July 4, 2017 and her phone was found near her feet. Sandy said Natasha was doing hurtful things to herself, such as cutting herself, taking videos, and showing them to a woman named “Loretta” from France. Sandy also said her daughter was paying money to this woman (payments aren’t known to be part of the challenge, typically.)
Sandy said that after Natasha killed herself, she learned about it when Loretta called her. “Hey, you might want to go check on your daughter. I think she just killed herself,” the woman told Sandy.
Sandy added that she didn’t think the detectives believed her when she said her daughter’s death was related to the challenge.
Chase, A 12-Year-Old from LeFlore County, Oklahoma
Another 2017 victim was Chase, a 12-year-old boy in Oklahoma who took his life in August. His grandmother, Linda Miesner, said he loved animals, playing with legos, and was very empathetic. He was loved at home but bullied at school, she said. The LeFlore County Sheriff said he committed suicide while playing the Blue Whale Challenge. During their investigation, they found two girls who were taking part in the challenge at Chase’s school.
Suicides in India, Egypt, & Dubai Might Be Connected to the Game, But Are Unconfirmed
Sadly, many suicides have also been reported in India and Egypt that were possibly connected to the game. In September 2018, Seshadri, a 22-year-old engineer, was believed to have committed suicide near the Panrutti district of India because of the Blue Whale Challenge, Khaleej Times reported. He hung himself at his home while his family was gone. Investigators at the time said they needed to determine for certain if his death was connected to the game, but it was a possibility. In January 2018, the Indian government had concluded that none of the suspected deaths so far could be tied to the game.
In April 2018, Egypt Today reported that two deaths may have been connected to the game. A 24-year-old in Sharquia threw himself into a canal and died after finishing all the tasks, his friends said. He was married and had a child. Another case involved a man in his 30s who was found at his computer with “a knife thrust through his neck.” He had a whale carved into his arm. Also in April, a 12-year-old boy’s death was attributed to the game, Egypt Independent reported. He took a poisonous tablet to fulfill a challenge and had a tattoo of a whale on his right arm. He was treated in a poison center, but died. The boy didn’t own a phone, so his uncle wasn’t sure how he participated in the game. Also in April 2018, the son of a former MP hung himself and died in an act attributed to the game. The article also lists possible connected deaths from that month including a girl who set her family’s house on fire and a 15-year-old in Alexandria who took a toxic substance. The girl who set her family’s house on fire was 17. She said her motive was the Blue Whale game. Her mother and disabled brother died in the fire.
In Dubai in April 2018, the deaths of 15- and 16-year-old friends were attributed to the game, Daily Mail reported. The two students attended the United International Private School in Dubai. Dubai police said the students talked about their potential suicide on social media, but could not confirm if the Blue Whale Challenge was connected.
In Russia, There Are More than 100 Victims, & Two Adults Were Arrested in Connection with the Game
At least 130 suicides in Russia were linked to the Blue Whale Challenge, Mirror and Unilad reported. Yulia Konstantinova, 15, and Veronika Volkova, 16, committed suicide in an act connected to the challenge in Russia, Unilad noted. Yulia posted “End” on her social media page, with a picture of a blue whale, just before committing suicide. The girls fell from a roof and died.
Other named victims of the challenge in Russia included Angelina Davydova, 12, Diana Kuznetsova, 16, and Vilena Piven, 15.
In 2017, Russian psychology student Philipp Budeikin was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail. He claimed that he created the game, IB Times reported. He also said that he convinced 16 to 17 teen girls to kill themselves as a way of cleaning society, Unilad reported.
Budeikin said about his actions, “They were dying happy. I was giving them what they didn’t have in real life: warmth, understanding, connections… I was cleaning our society of such people. It started in 2013 when I created F57 [online] community. I’d been thinking through this idea for 5 years. It was necessary to distinguish normal [people] from biological rubbish.”
Also in 2017, Ilya Sidorov was arrested for setting up a Blue Whale group in Moscow, Mirror reported. He said he urged 32 children to join the group, including a teen who attempted suicide. He was sentenced to three years of labor camp in 2018.