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Daghestani schools ban mobile phones due to ‘death games’

20 February 2017

Several schools in Daghestan’s capital of Makhachkala banned the use of mobile phones with internet access or cameras on 20 February. These measures come in response to several incidents among teenagers from other regions of Russia involved in ‘suicide games’ such as Blue Whale.

Blue Whale, is a game spread over social media game which has fatal outcomes. Its players are mostly children and teenagers. According to the rules of the game, participants perform various real-life tasks, such as mutilating themselves by carving a whale on their bodies with a blade. The final task in the game is to commit suicide. When a player refuses to comply, threats begin; the game’s admins tell children that if they don’t kill themselves, they will be helped in doing so. The admins also exercise psychological pressure on the players; they publish information about their home address or the names of their relatives and friends. They make it clear that if they don’t finish the game, their families will be hurt.

Information about Blue Whale spread quickly across Daghestani social networks. WhatsApp users send each other pictures and reports of tragic incidents involving children.

Last week, a girl from one Makhachkala school was taken to a hospital after ingesting a large number of medications. According to the weekly Novoye Delo, ‘the girl admitted that she played the death game on social networks. There was a blue whale carved on her hand.’

There is no accurate information on how many adolescents have been affected by the game. The move by many schools in Makhachkala to prohibit children from using gadgets with internet access is a preventative measure. Daghestan’s Education Ministry told OC Media that these were informal measures initiated by citizens themselves.

‘We didn’t issue such an order. Directors of schools made such decisions themselves. We instructed schools to hold meetings and parent-teacher conferences, to which students should be invited. Teachers explain to children and parents about the possible dangers and consequences’, Patimat Gitinomagomedova, from the ministry’s press service told OC Media.

A more detailed article on Blue Whale in Daghestan will be published by OC Media shortly.

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