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Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network responds to Blue Whale Challenge

July 21, 2017 | Email This Post Print This Post
 

Tennessee Suicide Prevention NetworkNashville, TN – The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) has fielded several inquiries from the public regarding the Blue Whale challenge, a cellphone app that reportedly encourages users to engage in acts of self-harm and ultimately suicide.

Reports about the game and deaths connected to it, both in Russia where it apparently originated and in the United States, have prompted widespread media coverage as well as warnings from school districts and law enforcement agencies.

Network Addresses School, Community Concerns Regarding Blue Whale Challenge Online Game.

Network Addresses School, Community Concerns Regarding Blue Whale Challenge Online Game.

Details are hazy regarding how much of a threat the game poses to teens in the U.S., but nevertheless the Network advises parents, teachers, youth group leaders, and other people who work with children and teens to remain vigilant about the warning signs of suicide.

“A new school year is starting soon, and along with it will come academic and social pressures that can push young people to the crisis point,” explains Scott Ridgway, MS, TSPN’s Executive Director. “It could leave them vulnerable to online and other media which glamorize suicide and present it as a viable solution to their problems. Already this year we’ve responded to Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ series and its problematic handling of youth suicide.”

TSPN stresses that parents, guardians, and others need to learn the warning signs now and how they can intervene to stop that crisis from becoming a tragedy. Both adults and young people familiarize themselves with the warning signs of suicide (listed at www.tspn.org/warning-signs) so they can get help for themselves and those around them as needed. They should also be aware of available suicide prevention/crisis intervention resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line (text “TN” to 741741).

Furthermore, parents should already engage with their children about their activities online—how much time they spend on their computers and phones and what they do on them. Increased amount of time on electronic devices and pulling away from others represent a form of self-imposed isolation which, combined with other behavior, may indicate developing emotional or mental health issues.

Finally, it should be noted that mental illness is a factor in 90 percent of all suicides, and external factors usually cannot entirely explain why someone chooses to take his or her life.

While reports of the reach of the Blue Whale challenge may be exaggerated, the news reports and word-of-mouth among young people may lead vulnerable persons to seek out the Blue Whale challenge or other triggering content online.

However, it also serves as an opportunity for a dialogue about suicide, mental health, and other issues. We at TSPN would like to be a part of that discussion and to offer any non-emergency resources and information the community needs.

National Suicide Prevention Liveline

TTY line: 1.800.799.4TTY (4889)

For non-emergency information on suicide prevention, contact the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network at 615.297.1077 or tspn@tspn.org

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