For weeks, news organizations in Europe have been reporting on 'The Blue Whale Challenge'. An email sent to WUSA9 last Monday asked that we verify the challenge.
The email also included the link with the headline 'Are your children playing the Blue Whale Challenge? Police warn British parents over 'suicide game behind hundreds of Russian teens deaths'.
Based on a description from the National Police in France, the challenge is described as a 50-Day challenge where teens complete a series of risky,dangerous challenges that could end in suicide.
The challenge is believed to have resulted in deaths both in Russia and in Spain, but we cannot independently verify those reports. We do know that the challenge was important enough for National Police in France to issue an alert for teens and parents. This was posted on their verified twitter account. Translated, the poster reads in part, 'don't allow yourself to be influenced. The game is not worth risking your life".
A tweet from Keya asked, WUSA9 and some of the other media outlets in town, to talk about and spread awareness of the challenge.
We reached out to MPD for a comment. We received an email from Karimah Bilal from the Office of Communications that said, "As of now, we are not aware of any suicide cases linked to "The Blue Whale Suicide Game" in the District. Additionally, it does not appear to be a trend in our region," We also reached out to Montgomery County and Captain Paul Starks with the Montgomery County Police Department told us they hadn't heard of anything. There have been no related incidents in Fairfax County, according to Don Gotthardt. We reached out to the Prince George's County Police Department but have not received a response.
Dr. Mikal A. Rasheed, who works as a Staff Psychologist at Joint Base Andrews, said suicide can be prevented but you have to beware of a few warning signs like:
1. Loss of interest in daily activities
2. Feelings of helplessness
3. Changes in attitude
If your teen or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Office of Communication
Capt. Paul Starks
Montgomery County Police Department
MPO Don Gotthardt
Senior Public Information Officer
Fairfax County Police Department
Dr. Mikal Rasheed
Joint Base Andrews