Methuen School Officials Warn of ‘Blue Whale’ Suicide, Self-Harm Social Media Game

Methuen officials want parents of social media-savvy teens to take note of a new movement sweeping the web with disastrous consequences. In a July 11 memo posted to the school district’s website, Methuen Schools Superintendent Judith Scannell detailed “The Blue Whale Challenge,” a social media game that instructs participants to take part in dangerous tasks and self-harm over a period of 50 days.

When social media users tag friends and “challenge” them to participate, tasks assigned by an anonymous administrator may progress from watching a scary movie to self-mutilation. On the 50th day of participation, the user is supposed to commit suicide.

In San Antonio, Texas and Atlanta, the “Blue Whale Challenge” is said to have led two teens to take their lives.

In her memo, Scannell suggests parents maintain an open dialogue with their children about social media dangers. “It's very concerning because these apps are targeting a very vulnerable population,” Scannell said, encouraging parents to search for hashtags like #BlueWhaleChallenge or photos of a blue whale on their kids’ social accounts.

“This post is not meant to alarm anyone, but rather to encourage parents to be proactive in protecting their children from potential negative influences on the Internet,” Methuen’s Superintendent concluded.

The “Blue Whale Challenge” is the second social media craze to alarm local officials this summer. In late June, Massachusetts State Police issued a warning about Snapchat’s Snap Map feature, which allows users to view the location of their friends while they are active on the app.