Written by Giulia and Patric
Last week at school our teacher showed us a report by an Italian TV show called “Le Iene” about a terrible game that is getting increasingly popular nowadays: The Blue Whale challenge. This so-called game is actually a sick, contorted phenomenon on social media that challenges you to inflict self harm through a list of tasks that you must do every day and eventually leads to suicide.
It all started when a psychologist decided to spread this “game” on a Russian social network called VK. The victims are generally vulnerable and depressed kids and teenagers that are attracted to this social network by a group of men called “curators”.
So what pushes them to try this brutal game, despite the danger involved? Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s been so popular, particularly in Russia. There is also an element of gaining prestige: for some macabre reason the ones that end committing suicide are considered heroes by the other gamers. We did a little survey with our classmates on this topic, and these are the results we got:
What is the profile of those who choose to take part? A number of the players might be mentally unstable and are thus easily influenced, while others may be from a bad family background and also are more susceptible than might normally be the case. They might lack a family figure or just happen to be vulnerable at that particular moment in their lives. Another possibility is that the teenager involved is a victim of bullies, and we all know that victims of bullying can fall into a deep internal depression. It’s also conceivable that some do it simply because they think that they may impress their friends. As we can see, these issues are mostly due to personality and family problems.
Psychologist Marina Slinkova, for example, agrees that the blue whale challenge and similar games pose a real concern but they aren’t the only thing that leads children to suicide: “I don’t think that the only dark spot in the life of such a child is the internet. If everything is okay in his life but he suddenly gets involved with these groups, I don’t think they can take over his mind to such an extent. But if he has no one to talk to, if he feels completely alone, he might just seek some sort of support there.” That’s why we need to make these people feel understood and we must make them feel we’re always ready to listen to them.
If you suspect that someone you know might be playing the game, here is some advice to find out for certain:
-If the person that you know is playing, he will probably have some scars on his body.
-If the person that you know has started drawing whales, he is probably playing the game.
-If you notice that he/she gets up at 4.20 in the morning, he might be playing.
-If you notice that he/she listens to sad music or spends hours watching scary movies, he’s probably playing and if so you should try to talk to him and make him feel your presence. Don’t let him feel alone, stay close to him as much as you can. It’s also advisable to immediately consult a psychologist to help him overcome the problem.
If somebody contacts you to invite you to start playing, tell your parents immediately and also report it to the police. In case you need further support there is also a helpline number to assist you:
This game has spread across the internet and social networks. Some have suggested that it demonstrates that the internet and the technology behind it are negative influences. We nonetheless believe that technology is one of the best things in society and is extraordinarily useful. It improves our every day life in many different ways. The Internet creates jobs like social media managers, web developers and software engineers, or services like Netflix. It connects people that live far apart through services like Skype and Facebook. People can also express their opinions freely and provide others with all kinds of information and resources. You can find detailed information about everything and social media can help people to make more informed decisions.
It’s true that evil exists but we teenagers are at a seminal point in our lives and there are so many great things in life that can prevent us from getting depressed or sad. Our proposed antidote is to think about just how great life is and to do everything we love to do. For example, we love spending our days singing, listening to our favourite kinds of music, playing basketball or interacting with people because it makes us feel happy and free to be ourselves. We would never let someone influence our thoughts and the way we are, so if you feel down try to spend as much time as you can with your family, hang out with your friends and do the things that put a smile on your face!
So if we let go of the dark aspects of today’s world and focus instead on the things that can make our days brighter, we will find countless ways not to fall into depression. Our choice is to live a happier and healthier life. Won’t you join us?
Here you can check our survey conducted on Monday 22nd of May: