Vacaville District Warns Parents About Blue Whale Challenge
VACAVILLE (CBS) - A suicide game called the Blue Whale Challenge targeting teenagers has parents on high alert. Vacaville Unified School District posted a warning for parents on Wednesday that the game is circulating on social media.
"It's unbelievably terrifying to find out that there's 13- to 14-year-olds that are looking at this app to try to kill themselves," said Raeana Rahman, who has two sisters aged 12 and 14.
Jennifer Leonard, spokesperson for Vacaville Unified School District, read about the game on Facebook and sent out a warning to parents saying, in part:
The 'Blue Whale Challenge' app involves the enticement of students into risky behavior that could result in the final challenge of taking one's life. While we do not know of any VUSD students who are playing it, we want to make sure that you are aware of it.
"We always want to err on the side of caution and let parents know what is out there, whether is prevalent in our area or not," Leonard told CBS 13.
Keziah Rahman heard about the game from a classmate.
"At first, it's like really childish," she explained. "It's like 'What's your eye color? When were you born?' and stuff like that but then at the end, it tells you to kill yourself."
According to European media outlets, the challenge started on Russian social media. It's made up of a series of tasks like poking yourself with needles and escalates to other harmful acts.
The final step suggests suicide. The name of game likely comes from the myth that whales commit suicide by stranding themselves on land.
"It's kind of stupid because why would you ever want to hurt somebody," said 13-year-old Natalie Almaraz. "That doesn't really make sense to me."
Rahman's older sister Reana says parents have to be more proactive to find out what their kids are doing online.
"They can talk to their friends but their friends don't know any better than they do," she said. "I just think more conversations need to happen."
It's a conversation that may be difficult for parents but could be the difference between life and death.
"As educators, if you lose a child, you spend the next decade asking 'is there just one more thing we could have done differently?'' Leonard said.
The app is currently not available in Google or Apple stores. Vacaville Police Department's Cyber Crime Unit hosts a class for parents to teach them the latest apps, online dangers and how to protect children when they're on their phones.
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