Parents urged to watch out for the Blue Whale Challenge

Parents urged to watch out for the Blue Whale Challenge
(Source: Mellissa Patton)
(Source: Mellissa Patton)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Parents, listen up: there's a social media game resulting in serious injuries for teens and in some cases could even lead to death.

It's called the Blue Whale Challenge, and a Mississippi woman discovered just how dangerous it can be.

Mellissa Patton makes it a habit to check her 12-year old's phone. The images she found over the weekend were shocking.

"I looked and I was like, 'did she screen shot this to make it seem like it was her to fit in?' and I looked and I could tell by her finger nail polish and by my bathroom floor that it was her," Patton said.

Along with finding pictures of her daughter with cut marks, she found a message saying "you have fulfilled the challenge and you have 49 days remaining."

Angie Fields with Memorial Behavioral Health says the cuts and the message were part of the Blue Whale Challenge. The challengers start with sometimes harmless acts, but then the tasks escalate in danger.

"The steps of it are systematically progressing in danger," Fields said. "So you try risky behaviors, then dangerous behaviors to the point with the end step that you actually commit suicide."

Patton is thankful she caught her daughter at the beginning of the challenge.

She thinks her daughter found the challenge through Instagram. Reportedly, the game started in Russia and has spread on social media.

After Patton posted a video explaining her situation on Facebook, she started receiving messages with similar stories from all over the world.

"I think it's just a group of people that are preying on vulnerable kids, kids with anxiety, depression, kids that are having suicidal thoughts and going 'okay well play this game you'll feel better,'" Patton said.

After finding out about the challenge, Patton didn't waste any time and checked her daughter into a treatment facility.

When she gets back home, she'll see her room completely redecorated with pictures and messages designed to make her feel better.

"Just so if she's having a rough day she can wake up and realize how many people do appreciate her," Patton said.

While the Blue Whale Challenge has serious consequences, Fields says there are other social media games that parents should be aware of.

Patton's case is a clear example of how important it is to communicate with children.

"There's going to be something that they keep from you, something that they hide, and it's our job to figure out and know so that our kids can come to us and open up to us without having to go through this," Patton said.

To keep your children away from this dangerous behavior, medical professionals advise you to talk to your children.

Look for depressive symptoms, watch for changes in behavior, and always ask questions.

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