Is the Blue Whale App a whale of a tale or is it true?

The internet is buzzing about a game, app, or challenge called Blue Whale. According to my research (Thanks to Michelle Nietert for calling this to my attention) this app apparently encourages children over 50 days to do self-harm (like cutting) and then the game concludes with suicide.
Horrifying like a Criminal Minds episode.
Questions have arisen, is this true, proven?
According to Snopes this story is unproven. Yet, within the Snopes article there does appear to be a link between Blue Whale and suicides in Russia and Central Asia.
Whether or not Blue Whale is just a tale perhaps doesn’t matter. 
What matters is our kids– their lives, their mental health.
Perhaps this is an opportunity, a splash of cold water to wake us up. Parents, we need to talk about depression with our young people. Suicide is 2nd in the leading causes of death, just after accidents with homicide coming in third for young people. 
We need to talk with our kids because if we do not, other voices will.

The Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, glorifies suicide. Here’s what an article from 2nd Wind ( a suicide prevention group) says about the show:

There is a new series on Netflix called 13 Reasons Why that concerns many of us who are passionate about saving lives of kids at risk for suicide. Briefly, it is based on a novel of the same name about a high school student who dies by suicide and leaves 13 tapes on why she died. “

Professionals have varied opinions on how to handle this show. Some say watch it. Others say don’t. I  At the very least this needs to be discussed rather than ignored. Even if your kids are not watching 13 Reasons Why  it, it is highly probable they have heard of it. 
Here are six suicide warning signs for parents to watch for (this is not an all inclusive list):
  • Suicide warning signs
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Threats to kill oneself or expressing the wish that he or she was dead.
  • Poor hygiene or change in appearance
  •  Extreme behavioral changes including moving from extremely sad to very happy
  • Giving away precious items


Here are some factors that increase risk (this is not an all inclusive list) 
  •    Untreated depression
  •   A recent trauma or crisis. 
  •     A peer who has committed suicide (Commonly called Copy Cat Suicide) 
  •     Feeling of hopeless
  •      Bullying

Actions to Take

  • Stay calm. Listen.  Don’t judge. Do not minimize the child’s pain.
  • Take the threat seriously. 
  •  Don’t leave the individual alone.
  •  Ask, “Are you thinking about suicide?”
  •  Be concerned for the child’s well being.
  •   Reassure the child that they will not feel this way forever. There is hope.
  •   Remove items that could be used for self-harm
  •  DON’T keep it a secret. Get help.


Things we can do right now to help all our kids
      ~Show interest in them and their lives.
      ~Love them unconditionally.
      ~Spend time together.
      ~Remind them they are created for a purpose on purpose by a God who loves them.
     ~Offer support yet avoid rescuing from struggles so he can build up perseverance and resiliency.
     ~Teach your child problem solving skills.
My friend, professional counselor and Moms Together Mentor, Michelle Nietert offers these words for parents, 
This (Blue Whale) is no longer an active app but the term is something kids might pick up on and use in a pact. Unfortunately in the social media world, it doesn’t take long for trends like this to spread. Parents, I don’t think we need to question them about the term Blue Whale unless we hear them use it. It’s more important to  talk to your kids often about the value of life, how important they are and how can he or she can share any desperate thoughts with you because there is nothing you, he or she and God can’t handle!”  
Suicide is a permanent action for a temporary problem. Our kids need to know they are valuable, 
precious, their life matters to us and to God. There is hope.
Whether or not the Blue Whale App is fake news or not, 
suicide is a reality among our young people. 
Other articles you may be interested in are:

Lori Wildenberg is a  licensed parent and family

educator, co-founder of,
 Lori’s newest book, Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home (New Hope Publishers) can be ordered on Amazon or found at your favorite bookstoreIf you are a parent of a child who has strayed or know a family in this situation, this book will provide comfort, help, and hope.
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About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.

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