A San Antonio family who believes their son committed suicide as the result of a deadly internet game is urging parents to monitor their children’s social media activity.
The Blue Whale Challenge presents itself online as a series of 50 tasks — each increasingly macabre — over the course of a couple of weeks. The challenge reportedly ends in suicide, with other tasks including self-mutilation, waking up at odd hours to watch horror movies and drinking bleach.
“I want them to go through their phones, look at their social media,” Jorge Gonzales told KSAT as a warning to other parents. “If they’re on that challenge already, they can catch that from happening.”
During an interview with KSAT Jorge Gonzalez spoke about the circumstances of the death of his teen son. On the morning of Saturday, July 8, the family found 15-year-old Isaiah Gonzalez hanging in a bedroom closet. Inexplicably, he had taken his own life at the family home in San Antonio, Texas.
Next to the lifeless form, they found a cellphone propped on top of a shoe, broadcasting the act using social media. The family believes Isiah’s death is the result of the Blue Whale Challenge.
But, what is the Blue Whale Challenge?
San Antonio police said this is the first they’ve heard of it.
The game involves predators mysteriously contacting potential victims through cellphone apps and chat rooms.
The Blue whale is the symbol of the nefarious online challenge urging youths to kill themselves
Yulia Konstantinova, 15, was a victim of the Blue Whale suicide game in Siberia Russia, February 2017
In February 2017, two schoolgirls Yulia Konstantinova, 15, and Veronika Volkova, 16, fell to their deaths after taking part in Blue Whale suicide game in industrial Ust-Ilimsk, Irkutsk region of Siberia in Russia.
Yulia Konstantinova and Veronika Volkova fell to their deaths from the roof of an apartment block in industrial Ust-Ilimsk.
Prior to jumping to her death, one of the victims, Yulia, posted a photo with a big blue whale, seen as a symbol of a social media movement encouraging children to take their own lives.
Just before jumping to her death, Yulia a photo with a big blue whale on social media
There’s been media coverage around the world, but it’s unclear how many lives it’s claimed or where to find it. Some reports have the administrator threatening to harm the victim’s family if he or she doesn’t complete the tasks.
The final task is suicide.
In the case of Gonzales’ 15-year-old son, Isaiah , when he was discovered hanging in his bedroom closet, his phone had been set up to broadcast his death via social media, according to the news station, a tell-tale sign of a Blue Whale Challenge inspired death spiral
San Antonio teen, Isaiah Gonzales, 15, it is believed died when he played out the final act in the “Blue Whale Challenge”, suicide
Predators typically target teen participants through chat rooms and social media and assign them a series of tasks. Some reports suggest the challenge administrator threatens the participant if he or she does not complete the task.
“It talks about Satanic stuff and stuff like that,” Jorge Gonzales told News 4 San Antonio, noting his son sent his friends images of the completed tasks.
Isaiah’s older sister, Alexis, recalled her brother being required to carve a number in his arm.
Still though, the family noticed no change in Isaiah’s personality. The rising sophomore had just joined the ROTC program at his high school, and his father described him as a jokester.
Jorge Gonzales believed his son killed himself as a result of ‘death’ game promoted on social media that issues a series of psychologically and physically dangerous stressors
Isiah’s sister Scarlett Cantu-Gonzales, comforts their mom during the interview
“We had no signs at all,” Jorge Gonzales said. “Isaiah was Isaiah.”
That’s why the father is insisting parents keep a close eye on their children’s phones.
“Look at it because you can catch it,” he urged.
And the Gonzales family isn’t the first to deal with tragedy as a result of the online Blue Whale Challenge, according to reports.
The family of an unidentified 16-year-old girl from Atlanta was similarly speaking out about the game on Monday after their daughter also committed suicide, CNN reported.
warning from Baldwin Public schools
Letter from Superintendent Sai Pascarella to Baldwin Public schools
Still, not a lot is known about the game. In their notice to parents, Park Rose School District in Oregon said “it is not clear if this is a real thing, or an urban legend.”
The game has reportedly popped up all over the globe, with suicides tied to the Blue Whale Challenge cropping up from Eastern Europe to Brazil, according to the Washington Post.
Several reports tie the fad back to Russia, where it is believed at least 130 people have taken their lives in connection with the online task challenge.
Earlier this year Russian authorities concerned by recent trend of Russian teenagers committing suicide ‘as part of deadly social media game, went after the ring masters. Police in Russia believe the evil masterminds behind the suicide game are hijacking the lives of Russian teens and could be behind more than 130 suicides across Russia
It is understood game masters set the participants tasks via social media.
Tasks include self-mutilation cutting themselves, carving words or symbols into their bodies for the game called Blue Whale.
The game ends in suicide on day 50.
21-year-old Russian man, Phillip Bedeikin has been credited with promoting the deadly Blue Whale suicide game.He was arrested by Russian authorities in May
Ilya Sidorov, 26, was also arrested, June, in Moscow, Russia
Alleged ringleader 21-year-old Philip Budeikin was detained in May and charged with organizing eight groups between 2013 and 2016 which ‘promote suicide’.
In the immediate aftermath of investigations into Bedeikin’s activities, 15 teenagers were stopped from committing suicide, five were rescued at the last moment.
Budeikin told novayagazeta his victims were “biological waste” and he was “cleansing society”.
Another leader of the suicide cults, 26-year-old Ilya Sidorov was arrested last month, June, accused of pushing up to 32 people, all of them underage, into suicide, according to the Independent.
Russian Interior Ministry spokeswoman Colonel Irina Volk said Mr Sidorov was tracked down after a 14-year-old girl attempted suicide earlier this year.
According to Colonel Volk, Sidorov who works as a mail man “clarified that he is the administrator of a so-called suicide group that had 32 members, all of them under age,” Volk said.
“He assigned them tasks aimed at inuring themselves in order to incite suicide. The suspect has been detained and taken to Chelyabinsk.”