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China: Around The Nation

Groups linked to ‘Blue Whale’ suicide game found on Chinese messaging site

The groups referred to the ‘Blue Whale’ online challenge, which has triggered several young people around the world into taking their own lives

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 May, 2017, 12:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 May, 2017, 2:36pm

Chinese tech giant Tencent is investigating after references to a social media “game” that tries to goad young people into taking their own lives were found on one of its social media platforms, a news website reported.

Tencent has found at least 12 groups on its QQ instant messaging service using keywords related to the Blue Whale game, the China News Service reported.

The “game” is believed to have originated in Russia and it targets young people on social media, assigning them sinister challenges over a 50-day period, including self harm and ultimately taking their own lives.

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The authorities in Britain, New Zealand, and France have warned teenagers of the dangers of getting involved in the game. Media reports have linked one teenager’s death in Kenya to Blue Whale.

Tencent’s QQ security team said it was continuing to halt the spread of Blue Whale on its network and urged users to report any suspicious groups, the China News Service reported.

The inventor of the “game” was detained last year in Russia and admitted to encouraging teens to kill themselves.

There were 130 youth suicides in Russia between November 2015 and April 2016 that could be linked to Blue Whale, according to the newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

“Young people who struggle with identity issues, fitting in with peers, those who are disconnected from others would be at risk of targeting,” Dan Reidenberg, the US representative for the International Association for Suicide Prevention, told the South China Morning Post.

Self-harming teenagers

“In addition, youth who struggle with mental health issues and thoughts of suicide would be particularly vulnerable to something like this.”

He advised parents to monitor young people’s online activity and to educate young people about the risks of surfing the internet.

The number of the Samaritan Befrienders’ 24-hour hotline in Hong Kong is 2389-2222.