Recent stories about teens taking part in something called the “Blue Whale Challenge” have been making their rounds on social media, and at the top of newscasts.
Why? Because the trend encourages death by suicide.
The online suicide challenge is said to have started a few years ago in Russia. Since then, suicides suspected to have been inspired by this Blue Whale trend have been reported in parts of central Asia, Europe and South America, CNN reports.
A Georgia 16-year-old’s suicide in May appears to be the first in the U.S. influenced by the concept, though another teen suicide in Texas in early this month is also suspected to be linked to the Blue Whale Challenge.
The “game” is said to be administered by an online curator and takes place over 50 days, CNN reports. Those who participate are given daily tasks by to accomplish, with photographic evidence required to prove they have completed each task.
Each task becomes riskier, and on the 50th day, players are reportedly instructed to commit suicide.
The Miami Police Department created an awareness video in May, and shared it on the department’s Facebook page:
Some preventative measures against the suicide challenge are being taken on social media. For example, Instagram and Twitter send an automatic warning to users who search hashtags related to the game,
Of course, parents watching for warning signs, checking their kids’ social media, and talking to their children about the Blue Whale Challenge and suicide can help, too.