mid-day editorial: Don't let the Blue Whale swallow our kids

By  mid-day correspondent | Mumbai | Posted  02-Aug-2017

The news of an Andheri teenager jumping to his death, allegedly as part of an online suicide game called 'Blue Whale', has sent shockwaves through the city. Even as the Chief Minister looks into banning the sick game, the common man too must take steps to prevent another tragedy like this.

The teen may be India's first victim of the game, but it would be naïve to think that he was the only playing it. It is time for parents to keep an eye out for the warning signs. The suicide challenge takes place over 50 days, with players being assigned daily tasks that include activities from watching a scary movie to sleep deprivation and self-mutilation. The final challenge requires the player to take their own life.

Scary as this sounds, it also means that parents have a 50-day window to stop their child. Kids spending more time than usual on the Internet, or displaying signs of self-harm or drastic changes in behaviour should send up red flags. Even if the child doesn't open up to the parents about the game, there's a good chance his or her friends will know about it. The Andheri teenager had told his friends he was playing the Blue Whale game, but no one had taken him seriously.

Parents also need to get savvy with the apps and social networks that popular among the youth. Hashtags related to suicide, Blue Whale, F57 (another name for the game) are also warning signs. School counsellors can step in and can ring a warning bell if they do come across evidence of harmful Internet behaviour during such sessions.

In the end, though the strongest way to combat this is talking to the child and explaining that everything on the net does not have to be a command, it is not sacrilege to break out of a cult and if you are scared or feel pressured in any way, you need to talk to your parents about it.

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