Blue whale suicide challenge: Parents worry about how to keep kids safe

"The government needs to have a strict cyber security system and ban sites that perpetrate such gory deeds. Parents should monitor the digital footprints of their children and only give limited access to social media websites to adolescents,” said Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTA United Forum.

| Mumbai | Published: August 2, 2017 1:51:40 am
Blue whale challenge, blue whale suicide challenge, blue whale game, blue whale suicide, teenager suicide The building in Andheri (East) from which Manpreet jumped to death. (Source: Express photo)

Even as the Mumbai police reiterated Tuesday that there was no evidence yet to link the death of 14-year-old Manpreet Singh to the ‘blue whale suicide challenge’, parents expressed concern over the exposure of children to such games. “Children nowadays are increasingly keeping up with trends in social media and ‘the blue whale challenge’ is another such example. The government needs to have a strict cyber security system and ban sites that perpetrate such gory deeds. Parents should monitor the digital footprints of their children and only give limited access to social media websites to adolescents,” said Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTA United Forum.

She added, “We are planning to conduct workshops to educate parents as well as students about the pros and cons of social media.” Parul Tank, consultant psychiatrist at Asian Heart Hospital, said, “Parents should be mindful of their child’s social media usage and have a general knowledge of what their children are up to on the web. Parents should establish guidelines and facilitate open dialogue with their children so as to warn them of the evils of the internet. Adolescent minds are vulnerable and internet for them acts as a ‘virtual peer group’ because they are easily drawn towards it.”

On Saturday evening, Manpreet leaped from the terrace of a seven-floor building in Andheri (East), where he stayed with his family. He was a Class IX student. A preliminary analysis of Manpreet’s cellphone has thrown up no reference to the ‘blue whale suicide challenge’, police said. A senior police officer said a text message and a picture of Manpreet’s last few minutes alive were the only things found on his phone that were relevant to investigations.

“The deceased sent a text message to a school friend two hours before he jumped from the building, that he was going to commit suicide. He also took a picture of him sitting on the edge of the terrace,” said the officer.

Police are speaking to the friend to understand his response to Manpreet’s final message. The officer added that the phone has been sent to the Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory for a detailed analysis to recover any material related to the suicide challenge that Manpreet may have looked up and later deleted. Police also recorded statements of several friends of Manpreet living in the locality and from school. “No one has told us so far that the deceased had been playing the game,” said the officer.

“So far, we have found nothing to indicate that the deceased had been playing the blue whale game, but we are not ruling out anything at the moment,” said N D Reddy, Deputy Commissioner of Police, zone X.

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