Blue whales do not usually bite, but an eponymous game began to hurt young people in Pakistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) reports suggest that people play the notorious suicide game, “Blue Whale Challenge”, and fall into the dangerous trap.
Dr. Imran Khan, a psychiatrist at the Khyber University Hospital Peshawar (KTH), told The Express Tribune that two 19-year-old Mardan at age 21 approached him for treatment after suffering a depression trying to complete the “Blue Whale Challenge”.
According to Dr. Khan, young people had opted for the game, but gradually as the “challenge” progressed, tasks became increasingly strange as they were asked to sculpt a whale in their arms, which led them to stop and seek medical help.
“They realized that the game would hurt them, so they decided to see a doctor,” said Dr. Khan.
Because of the patient’s privacy, Khan was unable to reveal the men’s names, but added that one of them was a computer expert who was checking if the game was really fatal or not.
The Blue Whale Challenge made headlines after a report that at least 130 teenagers in Russia were encouraged to take their own lives by closed social media groups.
The game, which is believed to be inspired by the blue whales that have been known to indulge in, is making use of vulnerable adolescents with low self-esteem. Victims are manipulated by group administrators or by hunting conservatives on a series of tasks for 50 days.
At first, participants are given seemingly harmless tasks like watching horror movies, not talking to anyone for a day, or leaving at three in the morning. This is intensified in tasks such as self-injury and lack of sleep. In the end, on day 50, the game supervisor requires players to take their own lives.
Players must submit videos and photos as proof that they have completed their assignments.
“People are starting to suffer from depression because the moderators of the game warn the players that if they do not complete the assigned tasks, their families would be injured,” Dr. Khan said.
The doctor added that most people who get involved in the “challenge” have a history of mental illness.
He added that the patients he had met told him they were worried that moderators would have access to their cell phone data and that they could use it for illegal purposes.
A similar case of a 16-year-old girl who claimed to have played the game almost on the last task – confirming suicide – was also reported to KTH.
Dr. Azaz Jamal of KTH’s psychiatric department who treated the little girl told The Express Tribune that she was a technician and was a regular computer user.
“She finished her homework and was eventually asked to kill herself or be killed,” Dr. Jamal said.
He added that he sought treatment at the right time and stabilized.
Dr. Jamal said that whoever ran the game put people’s lives in danger, and urged the public to stay away from it and not click on suspicious links they received.