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42 MIN READ TIME

‘Blue Whale’ Game Suicide Conspiracy Surfaces

Benjamin Radford

Early in 2017, scary warnings circulated on social media asking parents, teachers, and police to beware of a hidden threat to children: a sinister online “game” that can lead to death. A typical message dated May 16 warned:

The Blue Whale “suicide game” is believed to be a hidden online social media group which its main aim is to encourage our children to kill themselves. Within the group daily tasks are assigned to members [who] have to do different tasks for 50 days. They include self-harming, watching horror movies and waking up at unusual hours, but these gradually get more extreme. But on the 50th day, the controlling manipulators behind the game reportedly instruct the youngsters to commit suicide. Please share and warn all other parents of the dangers of this game. We do not want any deaths related to the game within the UK. (see https://tinyurl.com/ydfmld92)

Debunking website Snopes traced the story back to a May 2016 article on a Russian news site that “reported dozens of suicides of children in Russia during a six-month span, asserting that some of the people who had taken their lives were part of the same online game community.” While it appears to be true that some of the teens used the same social media gaming sites, it does not logically imply that there’s any link between the deaths or that the site caused them. It’s more likely that depressed teens may be drawn to certain websites than it is that those websites caused their users to become depressed and/or suicidal. And, of course, on any wildly popular social media site (including Instagram, Facebook, or Pogo) a small subset of users will share common characteristics, including mental illness, simply by random chance.

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About Skeptical Inquirer

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