Is Mumbai boy India's first 'Blue Whale Game' suicide case?

Updated: Aug 02, 2017, 10:38 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Is an Internet game called 'The Blue Whale Game' responsible for a 14-year-old's death in Andheri East? Friends of Manpreet Singh, say he threw himself off building terrace under hold of the game

Illustration/Ravi Jadhav
Illustration/Ravi Jadhav

Is a deadly Internet game called 'The Blue Whale Game' responsible for the death of a 14-year-old boy in Andheri East? The teenager, who jumped off the terrace of a seven-storey building on Saturday, is being touted as the first Indian victim of the online suicide game that has claimed over 130 lives in Russia, where it originated.

Before he committed suicide on Saturday evening, Manpreet Singh (14) allegedly told his friends that he had been playing the Blue Whale Game and that he would not make it to school on Monday. Police sources said that he had not left any suicide note, and his parents said there was no indication that he was depressed. The cops have filed an Accidental Death Report (ADR) as of now.

The Blue Whale Game, also known as the Blue Whale Challenge, is a 'suicide game' run by a social media group. It consists of a series of tasks assigned to the players during a 50-day period, with the final challenge requiring the player to end their life. With every task completed, the players are also asked to make cuts on their forearms, which eventually trace out the shape of a blue whale. The term blue whale comes from the phenomenon of beached whales, which is linked to suicide.

Locals blame the game
"I learnt that Manpreet told some of his friends that he was playing this game and that he would not be in school on Monday," said Sunny Valia, a neighbour and local Gurudwara committee member.

A Facebook post by a local resident also referred to the game in connection with Manpreet's death. Titled 'Feeling broken', the post reads: "The suicide is due to his following a suicide game called The Blue Whale game, he was following for 50 days where he was commanded to suicide. (sic)"

Origin in Russia
Cops are yet to determine what drove Manpreet to take the extreme step. There are no other reported cases of Blue Whale deaths in India. The game is said to have begun in Russia in 2013, and allegedly caused its first suicide in 2015. In 2016, Blue Whale came into broader use among teenagers after a media report brought linked several suicides to the challenge. Recently, a Russian court convicted one of the administrators of the game, Philipp Budeikin, who claimed that he was trying to "cleanse society" and referred to the victims as "biological waste". He pled guilty to inciting 16 teenage girls to commit suicide.

Cop speak
Senior Inspector P Patil, from Meghwadi police station, said, "Currently, our investigation is at a preliminary stage. More will be known on Monday after we talk to others. I cannot say whether his death was due to an Internet game. We have not seen his mobile phone."

Mastermind arrested
International media reports state that the alleged mastermind behind the Blue Whale Suicide challenge, Ilya Sidorov, 26, was arrested last month in Moscow, Russia. A postman by profession, Sidorov, has been accused of encouraging teenagers to cut themselves and commit suicide. The game was primarily spread through the European social network, Vkontakte, which is very popular in Russia.

'Suicide game'
>> The Blue Whale suicide game is believed to be an online social media group that is encouraging vulnerable youth to kill themselves
>> Members are given daily tasks over a period of 50 days, with the assignments gradually getting more extreme 
>> Self-harm, watching horror movies and waking up at unusual hours are some tasks
>> On the 50th day, the youngsters get a final instruction to kill themselves
>> Those who get cold feet are threatened that their loved ones will be harmed

No. of days to complete the challenge


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