It’s described as a game, but the Blue Whale Challenge is far from a game. Young teens who accept the challenge are encouraged to complete a series of tasks which get more and more sinister and at the end of the game the player is urged to take their own life in order to “win.”
The Blue Whale suicide game goes by many names including ‘A Silent House,’ ‘A Sea Of Whales’ and ‘Wake Me Up At 4:20am.’ It takes 50 days to complete and is played primarily via the website VKontakte, which is a popular social network in Russia. It gets its name from a common belief that blue whales voluntarily beach themselves in order to end their own lives.
The game is attracting teens as young as 12-years-old in Russia and Central Asian countries but recent reports suggest the game could be spreading across Europe and into the UK. The game has been blamed by the Russian media as the reason why 80 to 130 children committed suicide between November 2015 and April 2016.
The game’s administrators or curator find players through “death groups” or “suicide groups” set up on VK.com (VKontakte). Police in Russia have shut down several of these groups in recent years but say that as soon as one is shut down, another starts up and this has driven them underground.
Once you’ve been accepted by an administrator, you are given your first of 50 daily challenges, these can be anything from simple tasks like listening to a certain song, watching unsettling videos and waking up at odd times to much more extreme requests like cutting words or whale symbols into your skin. The first challenge usually comes at 4:20am. Every time you accomplish a task, you must provide photographic or video proof of completion to the admin.
A journalist working at Radio Free Europe created an account on VK, posing as a 15-year-girl they attempted to join the Blue Whale game. After making contact with a curator they were given their first task, which involved deliberate self-harm.