A 16-year-old boy from Kerala hanged himself on July 26. His mother informed police yesterday that she now suspects her son took his own life to complete the infamous Blue Whale Challenge.
The Blue Whale Challenge has been in news for a while now. The dare-based “game” was created by a 22-year-old Russian named Philipp Budeikin who, in an interview, confessed that he was directly responsible for at least 17 teenagers in Russia committing suicide. Budeikin was arrested in May this year and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Those who take up the Blue Whale Challenge are to complete 50 tasks — ranging from listening to certain kind of music the curator (the one who instructs) sends at 4.20 AM to cutting yourself to watching horror movies all day to isolating yourself to finally taking one’s own life, mostly by jumping off from a high-rise — and sending proof, photographs of videos, of each completed task to get the next one assigned.
The challenge soon became an internet phenomenon and spread to other countries. The suicide of a 14-year-old Mumbai teenager was suspected to the first case of Blue Whale Challenge-related suicide in India. While the police are tight-lipped about any link to the challenge, a family friend denied any connection to the challenge and told IndiaToday.in that the family got to know about the challenge only after seeing media reports. A few other cases, from different parts of India, were reported — one Dehradun, one from West Bengal and one from Pune — but in these cases too, connection to Blue Whale Challenge could not be verified. However, in all these cases, sources close to teenagers confirmed that they mentioned Blue Whale Challenge and taking it up.
Manoj C Manu, a 16-year-old boy from Perumkulam in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, hanged himself on July 26. Kerala Police had registered a case of unnatural death then. Yesterday, the Class 11 student’s mother informed police that she suspects her son committed suicide to complete the Blue Whale Challenge.
Manoj, his mother Anu said, had spoken to her about the Blue Whale Challenge nine months ago. In an interview, she told Malayala Manorama that she laughed it off initially asking who would name a game that, but when Manoj told her that to “play” it, the players should complete different tasks and finally kill oneself, kill someone else, or turn into a lunatic, she took a word from him that he won’t attempt it.
On asking how he knew about the game, Manoj told his mother that he chanced upon it and on getting a clue, he explored it and learned how to go about it.
CHANGES IN BEHAVIOUR
Manoj never used to travel alone, his mother — Anu — said but in the last nine months, he used to set out to see the beach all by himself, stay awake all night and go to sleep at 5 in the morning, used to frequent cemeteries, plunged into river despite not knowing swimming and even made a friend carve three alphabets on his hand using a compass.
“He started behaving strangely since last November. First he went to a beach all alone. He lied to us that he was going for some programme with his friends but went to the beach alone. In January, I saw three alphabets carved on his hand – A, B and I. His friend was scared to do it, but Manoj forced him to,” Anu told Malayala Manorama.