A 15-year-old Texas teen named Isaiah Gonzalez live streamed his own suicide over the weekend, which is believed to have been done as part of a sinister challenge called the Blue Whale Challenge.
His father, Jorge Gonzalez said he found his son’s dead body hanging in a bedroom closet on Saturday morning, and next to the teen he found a cell phone propped on top of a shoe, broadcasting the act on social media, according to KSAT.
“We had no signs at all. Isaiah was Isaiah,” Jorge Gonzales said.The father said his son was all smiles and a jokester who it up the room, KSAT reported.
The Blue Whale Challenge is a macabre online challenge that forces teens to participate in 50 daily horrendous tasks that vary from watching horror videos at odd periods of the day to self-mutilation, which all lead up to one final task–suicide.
Reportedly, participants have to report to an ‘administrator’ who gives them daily challenges, which has to be documented on social media, and if the tasks are not completed on time those controlling the game send out threats.
Although the challenge is rumored to have caused many unexpected deaths across the globe, the reality of it is hard to prove because it plays out on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. And due to the lack of evidence, some say it’s just an Internet hoax invented to frighten parents and other adults, the Washington Post reported.
Isaiah’s family believes he was certainly involved in the challenge. They found out that he was sending his friends pictures of the completed tasks. “They blew it off like it was a joke and if one of them would have said something, one of them would have called us, he would have been alive,” his sister Scarlett Cantu-Gonzales said.
This week CNN also reported that an Atlanta teen also committed suicide– a suicide that is believed to have been committed as part of this challenge as well. If these two cases are truly related to the challenge, these cases would be the first two in the United States.
The challenge which also goes by the names “F57” and “death group” is said to have originated in Russia in 2013 and allegedly caused its first suicide in 2015. Civil society groups in Russia believe that at least 130 young people have died as a result of the game, U.K network Sky News reported this week.
The publication was able to talk to a college freshman who started playing the game and was fortunately saved right before he committed his suicide task.
“I was skeptical about it, I couldn’t believe anyone could actually kill themselves by playing it. Because I didn’t believe it I guess, I decided to look for it,” Oleg Kapaev told Sky News. After searching for a Blue Whale group for several days online, Kapaev said he found an administrator. “They start psychologically manipulating you. It is very professionally done. You become a bit of a zombie,” Kapaev.
By time Kapaev reached task number nine he was instructed to jump from a 20-storey building in Moscow, he told Sky News. “I didn’t feel like I needed to kill myself,” he said. “I felt I needed to complete the task. I only had this thought in my head – that I need to complete the task.” Kapaev’s parents were luckily able to catch in on their child’s behavior and had an officer track him down before he made the jump.
In recent months reports of Blue Whale incidents and fatalities have surfaced in places such as Ukraine, Estonia, Kenya, Brazil, and Argentina, Sky News reported.
Isaiah Gonzalez’s death and the Atlanta teen whose identity was not publicized has prompted schools to take action in preventing the challenge from being widespread, including Baldwin County Public Schools. The Miami Police Department also released a video in May outlining the challenge.
While the family buried their son this past Thursday, Jorge Gonzalez is urging parents to know what to look out for before it’s too late. “I want them to go through their phones, look at their social media,” Jorge Gonzales told KSAT, as a warning to other parents. “If they’re on that challenge already, they can catch that from happening,” he said.