A feeling of being ignored and a sense of failure are making several teenagers across the world fall prey to the horrifyingly dangerous and suicidal Blue Whale Challenge, according to psychologists. Though India has so far reported just one such death of a teenager in Mumbai, the world has, however, lost over 150 kids in the last three years due to this game named after the phenomenon of blue whales supposedly deliberately beaching themselves in almost a suicidal manner before their death. What is noteworthy is that since the game started gaining media publicity, the number of Indian youths wanting to play it has risen. According to Johnson Thomas, clinical psychologist and director of Aasra, an NGO, the Blue Whale Challenge is not a game, but “a ruse to trap the hopeless into acts of unconscionable self-destruction”.  Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, he said, “Most children do not understand the concept of failure and once they start failing in life while growing up, they become unable to cope with it. Today’s parents, who are busy working, fail to give the much-needed attention their children need. It is then that the child slips into depression on feeling ignored. A sense of denial and failure sets in.”

The game, which originated in Russia, can be accessed through the Russian social networking site called Vkontakte. The game is played with the help of an anonymous curator “who gives you a task every day on the completion of the previous task” and the “game” is spread over 50 days. It first starts with simple steps like waking up in the middle of the night and watching scary movies, As the level rises, the intensity of the game goes up. The curator then asks people playing the game to start inflicting pain upon themselves with a knife or needle. On the very last day, the person is asked to take his/her life.

“Children with depression take to social media to find like-minded people to share their feelings. This game is designed on the concept of lure mechanism and a sense of thrill which excites the child. If someone is depressed, one believes that one can get the ‘final thrill’ of one’s life before getting out of the world with presumed glory. For a child, who has otherwise failed in every aspect of life, the completion of each step in the game gives him/her a sense of accomplishment to complete the game and subconsciously they keep entering deep into the game,” Thomas added.

This correspondent also created an account on the Vkontakte social networking site and tried to search for a curator to understand the game, but was yet to find a curator for himself till the time of going to press. What is noteworthy is that since the game began gaining media publicity, the number of Indian youths wanting to play it has also risen and a look at the website clearly shows this trend. Several Indian youths can be seen pleading to accept them for the “challenge”. Many other Indian youths can be seen announcing that they want to take up the game as a means to end their lives.

Dr Aruna Broota, a renowned clinical psychologist, said that the “morbid personality” of the curator and “player” is responsible for the development of such a game. A morbid personality is high on negative energy with a sense of destruction, whether for self or for others.

“This game is filled with hatred and is constructed in such a way that the curator does not need to physically murder, but leads to the players’ death through the game. The tasks in the game help build up negative ‘self-concept’ in a person with a high level of frustration, leading to self harm and self destruction,” she said.

Dr Broota talked about the “sadistic nature of the curator” of the game. The curator derives pleasure from the pain inflicted on kids who come to play the game and the display of masochistic behaviour by the “players” who consciously or sub-consciously inflict pain upon themselves. She added that teenagers are more susceptible to fall prey to the game as they fail to realise the concept of success and failure. Teenagers want “magical success”, she said, and when they don’t achieve it, they feel depressed.

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