Death Of 20-year-old Indian Student In The US Linked To The Blue Whale Challenge Raises Fresh Concerns

Death Of 20-year-old Indian Student In The US Linked To The Blue Whale Challenge Raises Fresh Concerns

The internet phenomenon, which has spread across the global since 2015, has also been labelled "the suicide game". In 2015, a Russian teenager posted a selfie video with the caption "nya bye" before committing suicide.

Siksha MUpdated: Saturday, April 20, 2024, 06:00 PM IST
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As per media reports, the "Blue Whale challenge" has been linked to a 20-year-old Indian student's death in the United States. The Indian student from the state of Andhra Pradesh was a first-year student at the Massachusetts University and was found dead in March this year. Subsequent reports of the student's death say that it may have to do with the Blue Whale Challenge.

As reported by IANS, the 20-year-old who was first-year student at the University of Massachusetts. Speaking on his death, Gregg Miliote, a spokesperson for the Bristol County District Attorney has said that the case is being investigated as “apparent suicide,” as per the news agency. "We are awaiting the medical examiner's final conclusions before the case is closed," said the spokesperson.

What is the Blue Whale Challenge?

The internet phenomenon dates back to 2015 and has spread across the globe ever since. In 2015, a Russian teenager posted a selfie video with the caption "nya bye" before committing suicide. Subsequently, in 2016, a Russian Journalist published an article about groups of people behind the challenge, which had then claimed the lives of almost 130 teenagers.

The challenge involves 50 tasks to be completed in 50 days, one for every day, and on the last day. Each subsequent task gets more challenging than the previous one, and the contender must commit suicide as part of the final task. IT Ministry has described the Blue Whale Challenge game as “abetment to suicide.”

Participants are manipulated into completing these tasks through threats and blackmail. Tasks can include challenges such as "watch a scary film", and then escalate to more dangerous ones like "stand on the ledge of a tower block".

The IT Ministry, in 2017, had described the Blue whale challenge game as “abetment to suicide" and had issued an advisory on the game. The ministry had said, "The Blue whale challenge is shared among secretive groups on social media networks. The creators seek out their players/victims who are in depression and send them an invitation to join".

It added that players of the challenge can't resist playing once they have started as they are blackmailed and cyberbullied into completing the game.

Rising Death Of Indian Students In The US

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on April 15 said that the issue is of a big concern for the Indian government. In 2024, as many as 11 students have died in the US under different circumstances. A few deaths have been identified as murder, and some were said to have happened under suspicious circumstances.

“In the wake of the rising number of similar incidents, embassies have been instructed to keep in touch with students and communicate with them to warn them about dangerous areas of cities to avoid”, said Jaishankar, according to media reports. He noted that as nearly 11-12 lakh Indian students live in various countries, and student welfare is very important for India.

A Global Phenomenon

In 2019, reports of the "Blue Whale Challenge" being allegedly linked to hundreds of deaths by suicide spread from Russia to other countries such as Ukraine, India, and the United States.

The Blue Whale Challenge traces back to the case of Rina Palenkova. On November 22, 2015, Palenkova, a teenage girl from Russia posted a selfie online. In the photo, she stands outdoors with a black scarf hiding her mouth and nose and showing off her middle finger, which appeared to have been coated with dried blood. In the caption, she wrote, "Nya bye." Palenkova died by suicide the next day.

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