Suicide app ‘targets’ teens

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SCARY: Parents and guardians raising teenagers should not worry yet about a suicidal game which is prevalent internationally where the application is mostly downloaded by children.

SOUTH African parents and guardians raising teenagers should not worry yet about a suicidal game which is prevalent internationally where the application is mostly downloaded by teenagers.

This is according to the Film and Publication Board’s (FPB’s) Manala Botolo. “The app is not officially available in South Africa. FPB was also made aware of the suicide game named Blue Whale, which also goes by the names A Silent House, A Sea Of Whale or Wake Me Up At 4.20am, earlier in the year,” Botolo said.

Blue Whale is a suicide challenge that seeks users to participate in tasks for about 49 days for completion. However, reports state that the last task is to commit suicide. “According to reports, the game is a 49-day challenge that encourages selfmutilation and on the 50th day it asks the player to commit suicide to claim the ultimate prize.

Reports also claim that once the app is downloaded it can’t be deleted from the device.” The horrific tasks include self-mutilation, watching horror movies and waking up at unusual hours. Participants are told to harm themselves by carving whales on their bodies with razor blades and ultimately they are told to take their own lives, usually by jumping off a tall building.

In an interview with EWN’s YouTube channel, managing director of Black Box Theory and social media analyst Yavi Madurai said the game targets the most vulnerable of societies, troubled teenagers. “Teenagers are the most vulnerable of society and those that feel things and are highly emotional and highly sensitive.

They feel like they can’t get out of situations,” Madurai said. “The game is worldwide, we don’t have it in South Africa yet but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hit us. We don’t have access to the actual downloading of the app.”

The Sun UK reported that kids as young as 14 are allegedly acting as masterminds of sinister Blue Whale internet suicide groups, encouraging vulnerable young people to kill themselves. “Two girls and a boy have been detained in unrelated cases as the authorities seek to crack down on the evil social media game,” The Sun UK reported.

Cathy Chambers of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) said regulation could safeguard kids from such mobile applications. “It would have been easier to deal with these issues if the internet was better regulated so sites like these can be banned or closed down,” Chambers said.

She said Sadag did not want to promote the game by speaking about it but wanted to create awareness, especially among parents, of its dangers. “The game is obviously preying on vulnerable teenagers.

It is an incredibly dangerous game, parents should monitor their children for any unusual signs or symptoms.

“There are also security settings that can be installed in cellphones to protect children.” The board has urged parents and guardians to monitor their children’s devices and report to the FPB if they come across such content.

The FPB can be reached on its hotline number 080 000 0555 or its website, www. prochild.org.za. The board has not received any reports of deaths due to the game.

 KEITUMETSI MOTLHALE   news@thenewage.co.za

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