A dangerous social media game which was started in Russia has apparently made its way to the United States, where it seems to have claimed the life of at least one teenage victim. The family of a 16-year-old girl in Georgia think that “The Blue Whale Challenge” was responsible for their daughter taking her own life back in May, thanks to the clues that she left behind following her death.
The so-called game itself consists of “tasks” the player must complete over the course of 50 days — which consist of anything from cutting themselves or other self harm, watching scary videos, etc. — that they must take photos of to document to an online curator. The final challenge is to commit suicide, as the game itself is named after the phenomena of blue whales beaching themselves. The challenge was supposedly started by a 21-year-old Russian psychology major named Philip Budeikin, who was arrested back in November and confessed to having invented it, however the game is ostensibly still being facilitated by copycats online.
The brother of the deceased Georgia teen first pieced together after coming across a sketch of a woman in his sister’s belongings, with the name “Rina Palenkova” scrawled underneath, which an internet search turned up to be a victim of the game who committed suicide in Russia in 2015. From there, the family discovered many more clues linking the girl to the game, including painting and drawings of blue whales, one of which was even framed and hung on the walls of her high school.
Investigators are looking into online messages to see who the girl may have been communicating with prior to her suicide and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has opened a Child Fatality review, but her family may never get answers. Since the Georgia teen’s death, the game has also been linked to the suicide of a 15-year-old boy in San Antonio, Texas.