We're taking a look at the latest challenge that has social media buzzing. It's a bizarre and possibly dangerous game most popular with teenagers.
The game is called the "Blue Whale Challenge" or "Blue Whale Game." There are reports the game is responsible for teens committing suicide.
The Blue Whale game is disturbing to say the least. It's a challenge to harm yourself for 50 days, resulting in suicide. Teenagers are supposed to tag each other on social media and then challenge each other to play.
On Tuesday, Baldwin County Public School System in Alabama posted a warning to their Facebook page, telling parents about the potentially deadly game.
A social worker with the school system says two high school students may have already been exposed.
According to the post, the game was created in Russia.
The challenge is believed to have resulted in deaths both in Russia and in Spain, but we cannot independently verify those reports.
A quick Instagram search using the hashtag, #bluewhalechallenge, prompts a message saying, "the posts related to this tag often encourage behavior that can lead to harm and death." Instagram offers support for those in need.
But is the Blue Whale Challenge threatening our youth here on the First Coast?
We reached out to Duval County Schools. In an email, a rep says they are not aware of any incidents involving the Blue Whale Challenge. St. John's County schools said the same.
Clay County and Putnam County schools say they are looking into it.
We talked to Jim Clark, CEO and licensed social worker with Daniel Kids in Jacksonville.
"It's the third leading cause of death and we've seen an up tick in Northeast Florida in the last couple of years," Clark says.
Last year, 155,000 children attempted to take their lives.
As to why the trend is happening, Clark says there could be several reasons.
"There's an uptick in weapons," Clark says. "Forty-five percent of adolescent suicides are done by a firearm."
In recent years, youth are being exposed to bullying around the clock.
"No only are they bullying on the playground but they are bullying online," Clark adds.
The recent release of the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" about a teen who commits suicide, has prompted several school districts to either ban the series or encourage parents to speak to their children about the show.
Clark says contrary to popular belief, talking to your child about suicide does not encourage them to commit suicide.
"As long as there's a conversation involved," he says. "One of the things that's been proven to increase suicide, especially in adolescents, is the romantizing of the subject...parents should have a conversation."
Clark says he has not heard of the Blue Whale Challenge.
Here are some the signs parents should look out for:
1. Isolation/Loss of interest
2. Giving their personal items away
3. Spending extra time online
IF YOUR TEEN OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW NEEDS HELP, CONTACT THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE AT 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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