In March this year, we wrote about ‘Blue Whale‘ , a ‘game of death’ targeting young people, which originated in Russia but was spreading quickly across Europe.
Four months on and the losses to parents and siblings from this game continue to mount as reported today in Sky News
Blue Whale is most prevalent in Russia, but Argentina, Brazil and Ukraine have all reported suspected cases. And it’s edging closer to home, with Ireland reporting a case and Devon & Cornwall Police warning youngsters online about the risk earlier this year.
Even for those youngsters considered stable and happy, without any history of mental illness are being caught up in its jaws. Oleg Kapaev, who was simply ‘bored and curious’ became compelled to complete the game, purchasing a ticket to Moscow in order to take his life, as instructed, by jumping from the 20th floor of a tower block.
Suicide is a devastating tragedy that shatters the lives of all those affected and takes one life every 40 seconds globally according to figures from the World Health Organisation
But the deaths from Blue Whale should not, and cannot be, categorised as suicide. From what Oleg Kapaev says, which probably mirrors the thoughts of countless others, he simply wanted to complete the task, but felt no suicidal intent .
He said: “I didn’t feel like I needed to kill myself. I felt I needed to complete the task.
I only had this thought in my head – that I need to complete the task’ he told Sky News.
By brainwashing youngsters who either are, or are not vulnerable, to end their lives is nothing short of cold blooded murder through psychological manipulation. Psychotherapist Noel Bell says vulnerability creates susceptibility to self harm.
What then of Oleg? A young man who was simply ‘bored’. Do we need to broaden the meaning of the word ‘vulnerable’ to take into account youngsters who are simply bored and curious? If so, vulnerability surely exists in every single young person around the world , each of whom could become potential participants in, and victims of, this deadly game.
The NSPCC website offers a wealth of advice for parents about keeping their children safe online and encourages parents to discuss the ‘online world’ with their children. They’re also campaigning for the Government to ‘create a rulebook that would be enforced by an independent regulator’
Regulation to protect our youngsters is badly needed, but what about the protection of young adults, the 18 – 25 age group, who are struggling in a world of austerity and war? A little escapism into another, far more dangerous world is only a click away. How do we protect them?
Education about suicide and the risks online at an early age may help reduce the fatalities from online ‘games’ in the future.
But sadly, for some, this education may come too late.