The insidious Blue Whale Challenge has consumed many victims worldwide, so far. The game has announced its entry in India after a 14-year-old Mumbai school boy Manpreet Singh Sahani ended his life after jumping off the seventh floor of a building. Mumbai police are blaming the treacherous Blue Whale Game to be the cause behind his death. Ever since then, the online suicide game has become a matter of concern in India. We’ve done an elaborate piece to explain what the game is all about and who conceived it up.
But the question is still running in our mind why teenagers are drawn towards the gory suicide game. How to identify the people who are most vulnerable to get attracted to the vicious designs of the game? Can you, being a parent and teacher, do anything about it?
After investigating Manpreet’s death on July 30, police found out that the game has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 130 boys and girls across the world so far.
The Blue Whale Challenge is created by Philipp Budeikin from Russia, who psychologically manipulates people to indulge in self-harm for 50 days before finally taking their own lives. Each task is filmed and shared as a proof.
The virtual world attracts the teenagers so much that they immediately feel drawn towards it. There are no restrictions in the virtual world, contrary to real world. This fact excites them to do unimaginable stuff on internet.
"Teenagers generally take these risks because they are vulnerable and prone to seek validation. Also, it makes them feel like they are a part of something that is bigger than them," Samir Parikh, Director of Department Mental Health & Behavioral Sciences at Fortis Healthcare, New Delhi, told IANS.
"It has been observed that some teenagers have very low self-esteem, and rely significantly on peer approval. For them, the external environment becomes a source of inspiration, which is why they are willing to do anything to (project) a certain image," said Sameer Malhotra, Director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, New Delhi.
In the game, the participants are asked to insane tasks like carving a blue whale on their wrist with a blade, watch horror movies, causing self harm.
"People who are drawn to play such games may themselves be going through psychological issues like lack of focus, interest, feeling inadequate or incompetent," said psychiatrist Jyoti Kapoor Madan from Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.
"Such individuals are lured towards challenges which give them a sense of purpose while defying the socially accepted norms which they may have failed," she added.
The victims may have got involved with the game out of curiosity, but find themselves being psychologically manipulated into continuing with the tasks, according to the experts.Unable to recognise the harm it was causing, or scared to share the details of such games, either due to fear of judgment or lack of support, the victims could become easy targets for continuing the process.
According to media reports, 22-year-old Philipp Budeikin -- who is believed to be the creator of the deadly game -- said in an interview in St Petersburg that his purpose was to cleanse society by provoking people who think they are not worthy of being alive to commit suicide.
"Developers of such games are well aware of the vulnerabilities of the teenagers and know that they succumb to peer pressure easily. They are also well aware of the fact that teenagers nowadays are finding themselves unhappy, directionless and lacking goals," added Mrinmay Das, Senior Psychiatrist, Department of Behavioural Medicine, Jaypee Hospital, Noida.
In order to understand what their child is going through, parents and schools have a vital role to play. They need to spend more time with kids and keep an eye of their routine, added the psychiatrists.
"If the teenagers are seemingly lost, lonely and depressed, parents and school managements must take serious and immediate action to get them involved socially in the real world and divert their mind by providing activities or giving them something new to learn," said psychiatrist Manish Jain from BLK Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi.
The Web, being a largely uncontrolled and uncensored entity, it is very hard for us to be able to control all activities that young adults may indulge in.
"Being available to talk to children and students when they go through vulnerable times, making them aware of the dangers of such games and providing psychological and emotional support in a non-judgemental way will go a long way in helping them get out of it," consultant psychiatrist Deepti Kukreja of Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital in Mumbai told IANS.
Parikh has dealt with several self-harming teenagers in his professional tenure. He stresses on the media literacy as a way to prevent teenagers from indulging in these self-harming tasks.
(With IANS Inputs)