The internet has been abuzz with rumors about a hard-to-understand new trend. The “Blue Whale” game–as it has come to be known–reportedly encourages participants to engage in progressively risky behaviors, and ends with the participant’s suicide. And now one of the men behind the game has been arrested in Russia.
Philipp Budeikin, 22, has been jailed for three years for inciting the suicides of two young people. This sentence, seen by many as too lenient, comes after he confessed his role in two of the 16 suicides in which he’s been implicated.
Kishinau in Moldova (above) and Angelina Davydova (below) are two of the growing list of suicides being attributed to the blue whale phenomena.
The Daily Mail reports that Budeikin called the game’s participants “biological waste.” Though he confessed to the police, he didn’t seem remorseful. He said the victims were “happy to die” and that he was “cleansing society.”
It is unclear just how many suicides are linked to the game. Officials worldwide are saying as many as 20, though that number may be higher.
To play, kids (typically teenagers) find a “master” who will give them tasks to complete daily. These tasks are often risky or involve cutting. At the end of the 50 days, the participant is instructed to commit suicide.
While the communications are often secretive, they often allude to or contain imagery of blue whales. Yulia Konstantinova, one of the known suicide victims, posted this image of a blue whale:
“The trial managed to prove the guilt of the man and his connections to two episodes when he pushed young girls – teenagers – towards suicide,” Elvira Yakubova, assistant to the judge in Tobolsky District Court, reported after the verdict.
Sergey Pestov, father of one of the victims, is campaigning for harsher sentences. “It is soft from the human point of view, and we would like to see a tougher sentence. But at least it is an example. It is good grounds to say that such people will not remain unpunished. So in general we feel positive about this verdict,” he said.
“It was not Philipp Budeikin who was guilty in the death of my daughter,” he said. “There was another person who is not arrested yet – but it is a matter of time.”
Pestov’s suspicions point to a larger role for the game’s coordinators. He’s concerned that the game itself and the coercive techniques of the game’s operators might convince some to commit suicide, which he feels should be treated like murder.
“These children were in such a state when they were fully controlled and manipulated,” he noted. “It was like a shooting, a weapon, a knife. I think it must be called murder.”
“In the case of our daughter,” the former police man said, “forensic experts proved that the way she fell means she was not alone.”
After Philipp Budeikin’s arrest, he was confronted with the evidence, with communications he’d had with some of the victims. “Yes,” he told investigators. “I truly was doing that. Don’t worry, you’ll understand everything. Everyone will understand.”
“They were dying happy. I was giving them what they didn’t have in real life: warmth, understanding, connections.”
“There were 17 of them,” he said. “There were also those with whom I was simply communicating, who committed suicide later but without my direct influence. There are people – and there is biological waste. Those who do not represent any value for society. Who cause or will cause only harm to society.”
“I was cleaning our society of such people. It started in 2013 when I created F57 community. I’d been thinking through this idea for 5 years. It was necessary to distinguish normal [people] from biological rubbish.”