Depressed teen plays Blue Whale challenge in West Bengal, friend alerts parents

New Delhi: Parents to a 17-year-old boy in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district on August 24 were alerted of his suicidal tendencies after one of his schoolmates told them that he was under the grip of the lethal online Blue Whale Challenge that has claimed hundreds of lives across the world.
Raunak Singha, a student of Class 11 at the Garbeta High School, had told his friend, Kashmira Nasim, that he had completed three stages of the 50-day self-harm game where players complete tasks of increasing difficulty, culminating in a suicide bid. Kashmira immediately informed Raunak’s parents, who took the boy to a psychiatrist and uninstalled the game. Police say Raunak was suffering from depression.
Raunak’s mother Parul Singha(42) told HT the family would have never come to know that he was playing the game had Kashmira not informed the family. “My son’s life was saved because of this girl,” she added.
This is the latest in a string of cases reported from across India of deaths or suicide attempts linked to the online game, first developed in Russia. Earlier this month, a Class 10 student choked himself to death with a plastic bag in the same district allegedly after playing the game. The Delhi high court has asked Google and Facebook to respond to a petition to take off links related to the game.
Swapan Kumar Singha, Raunak’s father, is a law clerk at Garbeta court. “My son is very depressed and I don’t know what to do now,” he said.
Rounak told Kashmira that last Friday he received a link on his phone and the game got installed when he clicked it. He also said that he received a call and the caller asked him about his mental health. He said the game also told him that his parents were his prime enemy.
Raunak started to play the game on Sunday. He said he followed the instructions and the wrote “F57” on his hand using a knife. The next day, he said he was sent a picture of a ghost. On Tuesday, he was told not to speak to anyone.
“My brother is very depressed. We have seen the photos my brother received. They wanted to kill him. We are scared”, said Shreya Singha, Raunak’s elder sister.
“We have come to know that many young boys are playing this dangerous game. We have decided to visit schools and start an awareness campaign,” said Bharati Ghosh, superintendent of police, West Midnapore.

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