A social media challenge that targets teens and ends in suicide has made its way to the metro area.
It's called the "Blue Whale Challenge," and it reportedly originated in Russia, but it's been making its way across the world. It's reportedly behind the deaths of two teens in the U.S., one in Texas and another reportedly here in Atlanta, according to news reports.
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The challenge can be found on social media -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram -- and in some cases, you can find it on an app. An anonymous instructor or curator assigns the player a series of tasks over a 50-day period, but it gets a lot darker and ends with the final challenge: suicide.
Police Departments are beginning to warn about it. And psychologists are a warning parents to be on the lookout for warning signs their children may be involved in the game.
11Alive's Chris Hopper spoke to an Emory psychologist, Nadine Kaslow, who said teens doing dangerous things like driving too fast or hazing is not uncommon. However, she said if parents start to notice any changes in their teen's behavior, they should be on alert. Some of those red flags that something is wrong include:
-- A child or teen physically hurting themselves
-- A difference in eating or sleeping habits
-- A significant increase in screen time
-- A teen cutting themselves off from regular life
-- Substance abuse
-- Social media posts using #i_am_whale
Kaslow warned that the 50 days isn't a very long time for parents to pick up on subtle changes, but any significant changes like the ones mentioned above should be taken seriously.
While Kaslow said the game is still too new to know whether certain types of teen -- like ones who may have previously thought about suicide -- seek it out, she said it likely will draw kids from all walks of life who want to play along.