It is almost psychotic about the “challenge” that would drive teenagers to self-harm. Despite numerous reports, the existence of the phenomenon in Italy is not – at the moment – verified. But it is not excluded that, on the wave of emulation, online there are or may be born instigators, so it is useful to pay attention. Even in the media
Blue Whale, the social challenge that would lead the boys to face fifty extreme trials in fifty days, up to suicide. There are dozens of suspect cases arriving at the Post Police, as well as alert messages sent to WhatsApp, including worried parents. It’s almost a collective psychosis. Yet history has many unverified points, and others are impossible to verify. Here is a summary of what we know with certainty and what does not.
What it is. First of all we understand what it is. It was inappropriately called game and would consist of making a series of gestures at the limit, such as walking on the rim of the tracks, immortalizing and sharing online. The last test is to lose life. They would be hired through social networks: Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, chat. To orchestrate the operations, what was termed “curator”: would he guide the psychologically vulnerable kids test after trial, after convincing them to possess information that could hurt their family. Those who take part in the challenge would, first and foremost, cause cuts in their arms and publish posts tagged with the #tag57 tag.
The origins. The first to report the story was Novaya Gazeta, the Moscow daily founded by Anna Politkovskaja, a investigative journalist who was killed in 2006. In an investigation published in May last year, the newspaper links at least 80 of the 130 dead in Russia between November 2015 and April 2016 to virtual communities on VKontakte, the equivalent of Facebook in Russia, where kids would be instigated to take their lives. Work has been severely criticized and another investigation conducted by Radio Free Europe says: no connection experienced between suicides and chats. Among other things, it should be noted that there are generic “groups of death”: some have taken the butterflies, others the whales. So the name Blue Whale (translated as a blue or blue whale) is in fact a media mount. Why Blue Whale? Because of the whale’s habit of being stranded and dying without reason.
The protagonists. It is to be said that groups, however, seem to exist as reported by the fact checking Snopes site. Their appearance is subsequent to the suicide of a girl, Rina, which has become a sort of symbol figure of a worst-case cult. And the only one who is charged with chat is one of the first directors: the 21-year-old Phillip Budeikin, known as “lis” (“fox”), is currently imprisoned in Russia. According to investigators in St. Petersburg, he would instigate 15 teen suicide in 10 different Russian regions between December 2013 and May 2016. However, the trial is still ongoing. In addition, if he seems to confirm his accusation of having contributed to the elimination of “organic trash” in an interview dating back to November 2016, on the other hand, it is to be considered what More Kitov, creator of VKontakte of “Sea of Whales” community: Talking to the Lenta.ru site, Kitov argues that community administrator # f57, Phillip, just wanted to increase the number of members of his page to attract advertising using a popular story among kids and launching The myth of Rina. “This story – Snopes concludes – has been inexplicably picked up in the newspapers months later, but we are not able to test it.”
How is it all born in Russia? To understand the origins of history, it may be useful to start from some facts. The first is that hashtags associated with “suicide chat” on Russian social media appear at least 4,000 a day, according to estimates released on January 20 by Rotsit, the Russian Public Media Center on Internet Technologies. The second: the number of children who decide to take their lives in Russia is one of the highest in the world. With 720 victims in 2016, according to data presented to the Duma: three times above the European average. But, according to La Stampa, data is not rising because of these online groups and the rate of life-giving kids is much higher in the poorly digitized provincial cities.
Situation in Italy. To bring the phenomenon to the attention of the Italian audience was television broadcast Le Iene that collected the testimonies of four Russian moms of former “players”. The service opens by linking to the “Blue Whale”, presented as the tremendous social game of suicide, the death of a young Livorno: he was killed at 15, throwing himself out of a skyscraper. According to the postal police there is no link. On the other hand, I am watching about fifty suspected cases in various regions. As a source in the Postale said to the Republic, there is no evidence to determine whether it is an emulative phenomenon or whether there is a criminal mind behind these episodes that drives young people to suicide. Only the analysis of the computers of the boys, currently in progress, will clarify these aspects.