Three weeks ago I posted an article about the sinister suicide game which is said to have claimed the lives of up to 130 Russian teens, it's become the most commented on page on my website with teens asking how they can play the game.
The Blue Whale Challenge is a sick series of online challenges designed to prey on vulnerable teens, which culminates in convincing them to end their own life in order to "win."
The game, which frequently involves self-harm and psychologically dark challenges, is said to find its victims through "suicide groups" on social media websites such as VKontakte . The challenge takes 50 days to complete and gets its name from the common belief that blue whales voluntarily beach themselves in order to end their own lives.
When I wrote about the game on my website a few weeks ago, I was surprised to find that despite the fact this is an English language website, most of the visitors to he page were coming from Eastern European countries, the very places where the Blue Whale Challenge is said to be a problem.
Worryingly, many of the comments on my article appeared to be teens asking how they could play the game themselves. I decided to conduct a little experiment, so I added a button to the page offering readers the chance to "start the game."
My experiment was to lead readers who wanted to play on to a secondary page of my website, this way I could see from my website's statistics how many people were interested in playing the game.
9.6% of the people who read my Blue Whale article went on to click the button to play the game.
Once they clicked the button they were taken to a page which said "you really want to play? A game that claims 'there's no way back?' A game that preys on vulnerable teens?"
At the bottom of the page I wrote "you really DON'T want to play the game! Go and find some cats videos on YouTube instead" and I provided a link to a funny cat video.
I also asked visitors to that page what they were doing there and asked them to tell me in the comments section.
The page quickly went on to become the most commented on page of my website, but the comments weren't what I expected. Despite me warning the readers off of the game, almost all of the comments were from teens saying they wanted to play.
I replied to a few of the comments asking, "why would you want to play such an evil, manipulative game?"
A couple of people answered with comments like "to find out who is behind this things and destroy him" and "I wanted to troll this dude".
But other replies were much darker, one teen wrote "I want to, I hate my life. Can I play?" while another said "yes, I want to play it's not like anyone's gonna care what happens anyway."
"I wanna play. I was gonna kill my self anyway."
Of course these comments could be from people who think that by playing the role of a vulnerable teen they may get invited to play in order to expose or troll the game's controllers, that's hard to tell without taking things a step further, something obviously I'm not willing to do.
All of this makes me wonder if the game even really exists at all or whether it's just an online urban legend. No transcripts of conversations between game admins and victims of suicides have ever been published and when a journalist tried to play the game, he was unable to successfully make it past the first challenge.
However, it's clear there are plenty of people who would like to expose and uncover who is behind the game and it could be this desires itself which is fuelling the myth.
My favourite comment on the subject which was left on my website read, "I'd get in touch with 'them', cut my arm, hand whatever, then finally I would ask to meet the trainer just before I would die... get him, tie him to the 44 tonne truck I drive, and drag him across England."
If you'd like to talk to someone about suicide, there is free help available and someone willing to listen to you:
In the UK, the Samaritans
can be contacted for free on 116 123, or visit Mind
In the US, call 1 (800) 273-TALK.
In Australia, Lifeline is on 13 11 14.