TW The Blue Whale Challenge
By Yuliya Eruslanova
[TW: SI, this article discusses series of su*c*des; no graphic descriptions]
The Blue Whale Challenge: what really happened?
The Blue Whale Challenge is a “game” that started in Russia, but is commonly known as the suicide challege. The player gets 50 tasks and 50 days to complete them, while being monitored by an administrator. The more tasks the player completes, the more dark and messed up they get.The challenge always concludes with suicide, as the last task. The game was created by a Russian psychologist who thought that a person with “no value” should end their life. Some journalists think that the reasoning for the game to involve “whales'' is just a reference from a Russian rock lyric from the song, “Lumen.”
“You can be silent, you can sing,
Stay or run away, but still you burn,
A big blue whale can't break the chain.
Surrender or not, but still burn.”
The origin of the Blue Whale Challenge started with a girl named Rina Palenkova on November 22nd 2015. Rina posted a selfie on the internet of her in a black scarf which covered her nose and mouth and she was sticking out her middle finger. Rina captioned the selfie, “Nya Bye.” That same day she took her own life. Rinas death was often talked about in a popular Russian forum VKontakte (InContact), where students would mock her death and post fake papers and doctor footage.
On Christmas night, the same year, Angelina Davydova and Diana Kuznetsova, two girls from the same city called Ryazan committed suicide. One thing really stood out to their parents and the police, which was that both girls were in chat groups that discussed Rina Palenkova, and whales. The Novaya Gazeta (New Newspaper) report estimated that around 130 kids ended their lives from November 2015 to April 2016 because of their participation in “blue whale groups.” This game soon turned worldwide.
On November 2016, 21 year old Philipp Budeikin was arrested for creating the Blue Whale challenge. Budeikin then told the Russian media why he created a suicide challenge, “There are people, and then there is biodegradable waste. I was cleansing our society of such people.” He created the game back in 2013 under the name “f57.” On May 10th of 2017, Philipp Budeikin was only charged with three years in prison for manipulating teenagers to end their lives.
This case shows that our society doesn’t take teen suicide problem seriously enough because even after everything that happened, many countries still didn’t ban such challenges. And the mastermind of Blue Whales is expected to be released from prison this year, without any further restrictions.