The Blue Whale Challenge appears to be resurfacing on Instagram. The challenge first surfaced around 2017-2018, but it’s unclear just how many people in the United States took part in it, since it was more common in other countries. Today, people on Twitter and Instagram have said they’re receiving DMs from people who claim to be associated with the challenge, including anonymous “Jonathan Galindo” accounts. If you receive any messages from accounts related to either name, it’s best to just block them.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Blue Whale Challenge Encourages Suicide
The Blue Whale Challenge first surfaced around 2016-2018. The Challenge encourages teens to undergo a series of 50 challenges that culminate in ultimately killing themselves. The challenges are given online or through text or apps like Instagram. It began in Russia and there’s been continual debate about whether it truly spread to the United States.
A man was arrested in Russia for starting the challenge, and he admitted to trying to use psychological manipulation to convince teen girls to kill themselves.
In 2018, Heavy listed the most common 50 steps used in the challenge, so parents could recognize the warning signs that their children might be involved. You can read all 50 steps here.
At least four Americans may have died from the Blue Whale Challenge, including a 15-year-old, a 16-year-old whose parents said she drew paintings that seemed connected to the challenge, a 32-year-old who was chatting online with a woman from France connected to the challenge, and a 12-year-old. You can read more about those heartbreaking stories in Heavy’s article here.
Now People Say the Challenge Is Resurfacing on Instagram & Twitter
The challenge has started appearing again on Instagram. If you see any sign of the challenge or a “Jonathan Galindo” account with a face painted like a dog, you should report the associated account. Some users are reporting that Galindo accounts will send messages trying to get people to engage in the 50 tasks.
People are warning that they’ve been receiving DMs on Twitter or Instagram from people connected to the challenge claiming to be “Jonathan Galindo” or connected to the Blue Whale Challenge.
Instagram is attempting to warn people so they don’t accidentally stumble onto the challenge. If you search for #BlueWhale, you’ll get this warning:
People are also sharing messages on Twitter and Instagram, warning about accounts that may be associated with the game.
It’s not clear just how prevalent the Blue Whale Challenge is now, but many people on Twitter and Instagram are reporting getting messages from people who claim to be associated with it.
One Twitter account claims that he started the Jonathan Galindo photos just for fun in 2012-2013 and they’ve since been taken over by other accounts. Heavy couldn’t verify this, but here is what the Twitter user Dusky Sam wrote:
He wrote, in part:
Hello everyone. This Jonathan Galindo madness seems to be terrorizing a great many young impressionable people. The photos and videos are mine from 2012-2013. They were for my own weird amusement then, not for some modern day thrillseeker looking to scare and bully people. If you get some message from anyone starting up some game, do not engage them. Do not let them into your life. This world has enough real problems, and suffering or dying for someone’s cheap pleasure should noy be one of them.”
One person engaged a Jonathan Galindo account and trolled them back.
Some say they are getting messages from the challenge claiming that they accessed their IP or hacked their account and they have to participate. Please know that this is NOT true.
If you receive a message from anyone claiming to be connected with the Blue Whale Challenge or a Jonathan Galindo, just block them.
Meanwhile, some have created their own Jonathan Galindo parody accounts. One account on Twitter goes by a misspelled version of the name and includes a link to the Suicide Prevent website.
Signs that Someone May Be Involved in the Blue Whale Challenge
If you’re concerned that a loved one or your child 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. (These were hashtags associated with the challenge in 2017-2018.)
- Waking up very early in the morning to watch scary videos or do other unusual tasks
- Scratching a sketch of a whale onto their body
- Making deep cuts on their arms
- Standing on the edge of a roof or bridge
- Taking photos of any of these activities to send to accounts you don’t recognize
- 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 of the Challenge. However, a combination of these activities could be a warning sign that someone is involved in the challenge. 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.
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.
READ NEXT: Daily COVID-19 Updates