As well as posting the haunting photos, the teen also left a message on her social media accounts, simply saying “goodbye.”
Since her suicide several online communities and death groups, including ‘Sea of Whales’ have been sharing Rina’s photos and claiming that she was part of their internet suicide groups, but her death has not been officially linked to any specific online group.
However, a more sinister double-suicide early in 2017 has been linked directly to Blue Whale. Yulia Konstantinova, 15 and Nika Volkova, 16 took their lives together by jumping from a 14-storey building. Shortly before her death Yulia posted a photo of a blue whale on Instagram and changed her VK status to “end.” Nika also left a similar message on her VK profile, “sense is lost… End.”
Blue Whale and similar games have been linked to at least 80 of 130 recent teen suicides by Russian media but no concrete links between any of these deaths have been confirmed by police.
“We counted 130 suicides in children that occurred in Russia from November 2015 to April 2016. Almost all of them were members of the same group on the Internet.”
While 130 teens might have been members of the same group, this doesn’t mean for certain that the group or its admins encouraged any of them to take their lives, especially when you take into consideration that Russia has a high baseline suicide rate among young people. 461 minors took their own lives in 2013, for example.
Although Blue Whale has not been found to have directly caused a rise in teens taking their own lives, so called “death groups,” that promote suicide are real and are a big problem, especially in Russia.
These groups encourage children to commit suicide by convincing them that they are “fat” or “losers” in this world, however they tell them that there is is another world and there they will be among the chosen ones.
In November 2016, a 21-year-old administrator of a VK group was arrested and charged with persuading teens to commit suicide. Filipp Budeikin, who went by the name “Filipp the Fox” online, is believed to be at least partially responsible for the deaths of around 15 minors.
Around the world, police have started to warn parents about the dangers of these online “death groups” and suicide games. Police forces in Belgium and France have started spreading the word and in the UK the Devon and Cornwall Police recently tweeted, “who ever created this horrible game is sick! Parents: Please be aware of this ‘game’ talk to your children about it if concerned.”