US teenager's family say he died after taking part in 'Blue Whale' suicide game

The macabre internet challenge is is thought to have begun in Russia 

Will Worley
Thursday 13 July 2017 13:15 BST
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The family of Isaiah Gonzales say he died after participating in an online game called the Blue Whale challenge
The family of Isaiah Gonzales say he died after participating in an online game called the Blue Whale challenge (KSAT/screenshot)

A teenager died after taking part in an online suicide game called the ‘Blue Whale Challenge,’ his family have said.

The body of Isaiah Gonzales, 15, from the Texan city of San Antonio, was found hanging in a cupboard with a mobile phone set up nearby to apparently broadcast his death.

The Blue Whale Challenge is an unsubstantiated phenomenon, whereby participants are said to be guided through a series of tasks over 50 days, such as self-harming and watching horror films all night, culminating in a suicide.

After examining his social media and internet activity, Isaiah’s family are convinced it was responsible for their son’s death.

“It talks about satanic stuff and stuff like that and my son was never into that,” his father Jorge told local broadcaster WOAI.

Isaiah’s death, along with that of an unnamed Georgia girl also thought to have been participating in the Blue Whale Challenge, would be the first in the US to be linked to the macabre game.

Deaths of teenagers have also been reported in Russia - where the game is thought to have originated - as a result of the challenge.

Mr Gonzales said the family had “no signs at all” Isaiah was planning on killing himself.

He is calling on other families to monitor their children’s internet activity.

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"I want them to go through their phones, look at their social media," Mr Gonzales said in a separate interview with KSAT-TV. “If they’re on that challenge already, they can catch that from happening.”

Police have not cited the Blue Whale Challenge as a factor in Isaiah’s death and its existence is yet to be confirmed in the US.

Some have claimed it is just a social media hoax. But some school boards took the possibility seriously enough to write to parents warning them of it.

Miami Police have also released a cautionary video which claims the challenge has “made its way into the US” and is “putting our kids in danger”.

When the phrase #bluewhalechallenge is put into Instagram, users are directed to a content advisory warning and presented with a link to a suicide prevention website.

Two arrests have been made in Russia of men alleged to be behind the challenge. Ilya Sidorov, 26, was arrested last month.

Philipp Budeikin, arrested in May, told authorities his alleged victims were "biological waste" and he was "cleansing society".

If you are feeling vulnerable, upset or suicidal there is always someone available to talk and help. You can contact the Samaritans 24 hours a day for free via their website or phone line 116123. If you're LGBT and in need of someone to talk to, Switchboard LGBT offers advice and help every day from 10am to 10pm on their website and on 0300 330 0630. Alternatively, if you suspect a young person might be feeling suicidal, you can call Childline for help and advice on 0800 1111.

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