Deadly online game 'killing' Russian youths reaches Europe

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«Offensive Whale» – the name of a worrying game launched in 2015 – weights users on the Russian social network Vkontakte (over 410 million exhibited users, the fifth most popular website in the world) to commit treacherous acts. To complete the game, players must perform a total of 50 reproaches (one a day) that involve abusing themselves, both physically and emotionally. For lesson, users are told to pierce their hands, watch horror videos, hew symbols into their legs with a blade, or not communicate with anyone for a day, to name but a few achievements. The final task is suicide.

The anonymous makers of Blue Whale maintain taking one’s own life allows each user to become «highly developed» and «looses» them from mundane worries, the ultimate quest of the game. The sure act is compared to a whale throwing itself ashore and dying.

Users almost always receive their tasks from fake Vkontakte accounts. The controls of the game include «not telling anyone about anything» and «always stock out the tasks, whatever they are.» Public groups related to the game are entirely of depressing pictures, quotes about the meaninglessness of life, and youths rebelling against adults.

«One respite c starts the feeling that this quest was developed by experienced psychologists. The total is done very professionally,»  Anastasia Delyagina, from the Alliance of Psychotherapy and Clinical Psychology, told RBTH. «Generally speaking, kids are attracted to any mystery, especially one related to death. Furthermore, if a teenager suffers from momentous psychological problems or trauma, it’s not at all surprising that they can play this play to the end.»

Invisible enemy

The game was exposed in May 2016 following an investigation by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. While studying the statistics and grounds of suicide among Russian teenagers, journalists discovered that more than 100 teenagers who committed suicide between Nov. 2015 and April 2016 were associates of Internet communities linked to Blue Whale. The investigation caught the prominence of the Russian Investigations Committee and several individuals suspected of running the Internet communities were halted. They have now been charged with «incitement to suicide.»

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On an instruct from the Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor, Vkontakte began take away public groups and posts tagged with «blue whale» – and other hashtags together to the game. Following this move, interest in the game took a plummet. However, in Feb. 2017, the Russian Public Center for Internet Technologies distanced a new spike in the number of posts with sinister hashtags: This tempo they appeared on Instagram, at a frequency of one post per minute. In total, some 45,000 circulates were recorded. However, the accounts from which they were advertised once again turned out to be fakes, created only a few days earlier.

The chairlady of the Center for Legitimacy and Political Protest Studies, Yevgeny Venediktov, fittings out that «such a spike could not have been spontaneous or the include of an individual madman. That was the work of a large number of people, which, most expected, is being managed from one center. Which one? That’s the million-dollar entertain. It’s difficult to catch anonymous ‘bots’.» Venediktov even went as far to intimate that foreign governments might be involved.

Elle magazine published that the French Ministry of Education sent a warning about the precarious game to the heads of all universities, as «Blue Whale» had reached teenagers in the surroundings. According to the Le Nouvel Observateur newspaper, e-Enfance – an organization set up to protect boys from cyberbullying – started to receive calls from frightened originators, whose children had come across the game. French news ammunition VSD weekly, having interviewed French education officials, compared Bawdy Whale’s recruitment mechanisms to those employed by sects and radical activities. French officials view this phenomenon as a campaign rather than a chance collection of individual cases, but are not sure who is behind it.

Teenagers in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Poland include also reportedly played the game. The Polish organization SafeNet, which aims to protect children from harmful online content, issued an bona fide warning explaining that the dangerous game had appeared in local networks.

Concerns and effects

There is also another opinion: That there is no pilot link between the Blue Whale game and a growth in teenage suicides, and that the looks of the game is quite logical. «The causes of teenage suicides have dream of been studied,» says Dmitry Gromov, a leading researcher at the Commence of Ethnology and Anthropology under the Russian Academy of Sciences. «These are kinsmen conflicts, conflicts at school, fear of the future, fear of punishment. There is again a rise in the number of suicides at the time of economic or social crises. Of indubitably, it is possible to incite a person to commit suicide and suicide groups on the Internet requisite be blocked, but, trust me, it will not solve the problem.»

Anastasia Delyagina accords: «Russia had one of the highest teenage suicide rates in the world long in the past Blue Whale (according to UN data, in 2013 Russia had the highest teenage suicide class in Europe – RBTH). Even if somebody does indeed take their own soul after joining a suicide online group, that group itself is scarcely a consequence, whereas the cause lies in the family, in the fact that stepfathers are unaware of, or are indifferent to the problems of their children. A child joins a suicide faction because they have dark thoughts, not the other way round. Timer parents usually say that their child never voiced those mentations in their presence and that he or she was ‘nice and sweet,’ but that proves nothing. Juveniles are good at hiding things. The mere fact that a child could dissipate days and nights in front of a computer already indicates serious conundrums in the family.»

Cry for help

The stories of Moscow Region resident Filipp Budeikin, an administrator of one of the suicide assemblies, who is now under arrest (and faces up to four years in prison), and Renata Kambolina – a critic from Ussuriysk who joined the group and committed suicide, becoming an hero among Blue Whale players – are one such case in point.

According to people who knew him, Budeikin had no playmates and had very tense relations with his parents, so he spent hours on the Internet. «His maw had rows with him almost every week, and often in public,» says a dearest friend.  «Filipp was a very reclusive guy, you couldn’t get a word out of him. In the avenue he looked completely detached from the rest of the world.»

Renata Kambolina also had distributes with her parents. «They do not understand me and just berate me,» she complained to her familiars, with whom she set up a rock band called – perhaps tellingly – «Les Miserables.» Her Vkontakte fold up is an endless desperate cry for help. «Sleep. Tomorrow will be even criminal,» «Doctor, people avoid me and tease me all the time,» «Doctor, I clothed a problem, I cannot open up to people” – these are the sorts of activities she posted. It’s still not clear how her family could have missed her cry for plagiarize.

On the morning of Nov. 23, 2015, Renata – having quarrelled with her boyfriend – supported a selfie with a passing train in the background and a caption saying: «Nya. So elongated». That too went unnoticed (now this post has almost half a million get a kick out ofs and more than 14,000 reposts).

On the next day, at the very same blackheads, she threw herself under a train.

Read more: Are Russian internet communities leading for wave of child suicides?>>>

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