Children’s advocate warns parents about online suicide game

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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Children Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison is urging parents to be extremely vigilant in monitoring their children’s social media usage, as reports surface worldwide about the emergence of a new suicide game called the "Blue Whale Challenge".


The game, which reportedly originated in Russia, has been blamed for the suicide deaths of more than 130 children within the last six months.


A release from the Office of the Children’s Advocate said yesterday that the Blue Whale Challenge consists of 50 challenges, each of which needs to be performed daily.


"Each challenge is intended to encourage the player to do things like jump from the roof of a building, cut their skin with a razor in the shape of a whale or to hang themselves on day 50 in order to be declared the ‘winner’. The activities are assigned daily by a ‘group administrator’ who is responsible for issuing each group member with their tasks daily," the release said.


Warnings about the Blue Whale Challenge have been issued in European countries where authorities have urged parents to be alert to sudden changes in the behaviour of their children, especially if they are frequent users of social media.


The release said that Caribbean territories such as Martinique and St Lucia have been issuing alerts to schools outlawing the game and highlighting the dangers. They have also called on the school heads to be vigilant in regard to young people placed in their care, especially those who appear to be most vulnerable.


The children’s advocate yesterday echoed these calls locally.


"We in Jamaica need to be ahead of the curve on this matter, as it’s just a matter of time before it becomes widespread locally. While we have not yet had any reports of the game being here, with the high number of contact hours that teenagers and younger children in Jamaica spend on social media, it is highly probable that they are aware of this game and may very well become curious about it. We don’t want them experimenting and/or self-harming as a result of this ‘game’ or any other," Gordon Harrison said.

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