The ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ is circling the internet in an attempt to drive teens to suicide. Carole Lieberman, M.D. spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife.com about why teens play and how to stop them.
Parents are horrified of the “Blue Whale Challenge”, and for good reason. The haunting internet game requires teens to complete 50 increasingly terrifying challenges over the course of 50 days, culminating in the request that the player commit suicide. Beverly Hills psychiatrist Carole Lieberman, M.D., spoke to HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY about why teens are participating in this horrifying game and how parents can put a stop to it. Click here to see pics of Isaiah Gonzalez, the boy who allegedly live streamed his suicide for the “Blue Whale Challenge.”
“These days teens are feeling more lost than ever,” Dr. Lieberman, author of the upcoming book, LIONS and TIGERS and TERRORISTS, OH MY! How to Protect Your Child in a Time of Terror, told HollywoodLife.com. “They face personal crises — from bullies in school to parents in divorce court. And they face societal crises — from terrorism to financial unrest.” Dr. Lieberman explained why teens who are going unnoticed while dealing with adolescence are drawn to this kind of game. “When kids don’t get enough love and attention from their parents, they are vulnerable to anyone who shows an interest in them, even if it is a twisted interest in trying to get them to commit suicide. Girls whose fathers are not in the home are especially vulnerable to a guy over the internet who contacts them daily, even if this guy is telling them to do awful things to themselves and threatening them to force them to go along.”
Dr. Lieberman explained that, “by the time the teen gets to the last of the 50 tasks, which is to commit suicide, they have been brainwashed into believing that they want to kill themselves, or that they should kill themselves because there’s a better life waiting for them on the other side, or told they will be tracked down and meet a more horrible fate if they don’t commit suicide.”
The psychiatrist said that the minds behind the game are using specific psychological techniques to make their players as vulnerable as possible. “The administrators use sophisticated psychological strategies to get control over these teens’ minds,” she said. “First, they choose their victims on the internet from social media groups, selecting the most vulnerable teens and creating a sense that those who are chosen are special. Then they keep them hooked for 50 days before giving them the task of committing suicide. During this time, the administrator demands proof of loyalty, such as by making them cut symbols into their body and showing the administrator a picture or video of it. They make the teens wake up at 4:20 in the morning for days on end to make them increasingly tired and unable to make rational decisions. They make them watch horror movies, scenes of destruction, and other teens committing suicide, making it seem like the world is going to hell.”
Dr. Lieberman warned that, “teens who feel lost, lonely, depressed, and hopeless about their life ever getting better would be vulnerable to participating.” There are multiple signs to look out for if you believe a teen may be playing the game including, “cuts or symbolic designs on their body,” “waking up for days at 4:20 am (or some similar early time),” “increasing isolation and secrecy,” and “a zombie or trance-like state.”
“The best way to prevent Blue Whale and other dangerous temptations is to spend more time with your teens, even if they pretend that they don’t want you around,” Dr. Lieberman said, encouraging parents to get involved in their children’s lives. “The more time you spend with them, the less vulnerable they will be to the Blue Whale, drugs, sex and other dangers. Kids who would fall for Blue Whale, or simply commit self-harm, even if they have never heard of this game, feel as though their parents don’t care enough about them.”
She also advises parents to “keep close watch over what your teen does on the internet, including all their social media.” “Not only will you be able to catch the Blue Whale, you can catch other harmful things, like cyberbullying, sexting and so on. Provide lots of interesting opportunities for your teen — from theater to team sports — so that they don’t have time to spend on the internet, looking for trouble.”
HollywoodLifers, what do you think of Dr. Lieberman’s suggestions for helping teens avoid being trapped by the Blue Whale internet challenge? Let us know below!