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Young lives fading in Internet suicide groups

We hear about suicides so often these days that it’s almost a trend and we’re so used to the stories that we barely even cringe anymore. It’s rather sad. If we look into some of the cases their causes for death almost seem trivial to those who are living and those they’ve left behind. Some people say that suicide affects the people left behind. But taking one owns life is never petty, it is never light conversation; it is scary, frightening and very real. Two days back a friend of mine on facebook, posted a suicide note on his timeline and used very frightening display pictures of death to hint his FB friends that he is ending his life. It was midnight and we all friends were worried and he lives far away from us as we thought by the time we reach to him we may not even be seeing him alive. We called his parents who stay in Bihar, his mother was inconsolable, we had no money in hand. I and my friends kept calling police station, ambulance, and his office colleagues. Those terrified three hours of our lives was a living hell for us. Atlast there was sign of relief that the man in his 40’s was alive. But we died our death in those three hours of horrifying feelings.

Actually, suicide has been linked to mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, alcoholism and drug abuse, broken relationships, work pressure and some may use is as tool to blackmail or weaken the opposite side. It is said that death only needs an excuse and it is true. But suicide isn’t just a state of mind that develops overnight. It’s a lingering thought in the person’s life and finally when they hit rock bottom they don’t see the end of tunnel anymore and they call their final shots. At that moment living becomes much harder than death could ever be for them. Anyway, these days suicide has become very common and sometimes it has become a tool to take revenge. When it comes to teenage lives, I get more worried because they have over chocked emotions but hardly source to vent it out. Here comes the role of internet. From birth to death you have many ways to discover and end your life.

For now, Blue Whale, with its exploitation of self-pity and teenage posturing, is marching around the world. It doesn’t need the ugly Russian background to thrive: Adolescent misery is borderless. Despite the fact that a scare mongering message has been shared on WhatsApp among parents in India warning them about the dangers of the game. Though, police have found no evidence that the game exists and has become nothing more than an urban myth.

It’s described as a game, but the Blue Whale Challenge is far from a game. Young teens who accept the challenge are encouraged to complete a series of tasks which get more and more sinister and at the end of the game the player is urged to take their own life in order to “win.” However, a more sinister double-suicide early in 2017 has been linked directly to Blue Whale the game that’s got parents and officials worried in India. The name Blue Whale apparently comes from a song by the Russian rock band Lumen. Its opening lines are, “Why scream / when no one hears / what we’re talking about?” and it features a “huge blue whale” that “can’t break through the net.” By posting on social networks using certain hashtags or joining to certain groups, teens — usually between the ages of 10 and 14 – get spotted by “curators,” who, after vetting the potential player, set up to 50 daily tasks leading up to the ultimate one, suicide. The tasks involve cutting one and taking other risks. For the last 10 days, the player needs to wake up at an appointed early morning hour, listen to music and contemplate death. Those who get cold feet and want to leave the game receive threats, often that their parents will be killed. This is what is circulated across but yet no authentication is done about it. The Blue Whale suicide game goes by many names including ‘A Silent House,’ ‘A Sea Of Whales’ and ‘Wake Me Up At 4:20am. It takes 50 days to complete and is played primarily via the website VKontakte, which is a popular social network in Russia, now the same site has come up with English language too, to connect globally.

This year, discussion of “death groups” has revived as many teenagers are ending their lives and posting pics online. Reports of adolescents playing the game emerged from Kerala, Maharashtra and Punjab. The number of teenage suicides in India increased as compared to previous year. Vkontakte and Instagram, two of the most popular digital destinations for adolescents, are also seeking to counter this scourge by removing posts containing Blue Whale-related hashtags. Instagram is also sending messages to posters suggesting counselling and offering help. The weakness of tying teen suicides to the social network groups and games like Blue Whale is, of course, that there’s no proof of causation. A teenager who is contemplating suicide will always look for like-minded people, and social networks are just the easiest place to look. Since the game is widespread, some India teenagers have sought out “curators” to troll them.

People, especially adolescents, tend to kill themselves in “space-time clusters” because of imitative behavior. But then, teen suicide rate has long been higher than average. There is additional pressure of living in a corrupt, quasi-capitalist system where there’s no clear path to success for kids from families without political and professional connections. It’s particularly hard to see a future growing up in a grim, high-rise residential block on the outskirts of an industrial city, with parents drinking, quarrelling or absent and school providing no respite. That’s often the story that heads an Indian teen suicide.

These online suicide groups encourage such miserable children to commit suicide by convincing them that they are “fat” or “losers” in this world, however they tell them that there is another world and there they will be among the chosen ones. Around the world, police have started to warn parents about the dangers of these online “death groups” and suicide games. But we the alert citizen needs more vigilance and eye on young minds, to prevent them from from falling in such trap.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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