Police have tracked down at least 11 friends of a school student whose suicide Saturday is being blamed on the Blue Whale Challenge, who are suspected to be in the grip of the deadly game. Of the 11, seven are at DAV Senior Secondary School in Sector 8, where 16-year-old Karan Thakur was studying in Class 10. Four are from Panchkula, where Karan lived, and are in other schools. Their parents have been contacted and their mobiles confiscated by the parents. Vibha Ray, principal of DAV Senior Secondary School in Sector 8, said that they had assisted the police in identifying the victim’s close friends in the school.
The Panchkula police on Tuesday confiscated the phones of the four Panchkula friends who were reportedly on the verge of performing the deadly tasks. Along with Karan’s phone, they have been sent to the Digital Investigation Training and Analysis Centre in Gurgaon to analyze the data and retrieve deleted information.
One of Karan’s Panchkula friends is a girl. Police officials said they took a decision to get the mobile data examined by experts in Gurgaon so as to gather details about the source. The students whose mobiles have been sent to Gurgaon had details of the “performed tasks” they had taken up. The game which is a 50-day challenge asks a person to perform one task daily and then post a picture to the curator.
Police sources said the 11 were tracked with the help of Karan’s school and his cousins. One of them had a Blue Whale mark on the hand, the sources said. Alarmed by the developments of the last four days, the Panchkula police issued an advisory on Tuesday, which said: “Reach out to your kids before the Blue Whale does”. The five-point advisory asks the parents to monitor their children’s online activity, encourage outdoor play, talk to their kids, notice any abnormal behaviour like change in eating pattern, sleeping habit, depression, isolation, or signs of aggressive behaviour, and consult a psychiatrist if required.
Schools have also been asked to observe any visible marks like cuts or wounds on the body and verify the precise cause, observe any signs of depression or isolation, sensitise parents to the Blue Whale, and encourage shared computers. It was also mentioned: “A discussion with experts on the subject has revealed that Blue Whale and other such games are not those which are freely downloaded but they are essentially via one-to-one conversation. The child is profiled on social media and then the vulnerable (one who is low on self-esteem, or depressed or trying to prove himself or herself) is likely to be in the high-risk category.”
Also, it was stated that as the game progresses after initial simple tasks, even someone who started off believing that he or she would not be able to do the task simply gets addicted and falls in the trap.
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