St Columb's College in 'suicide game' alert to parents
A top Northern Ireland grammar school has become the latest college to warn parents over the dangers of a digital game that encourages young people to take their own lives.
St Columb's College in Londonderry sent a text message to parents and issued a statement on its website over the sinister 'Blue Whale' game.
The game involves young people completing daily tasks over a period of 50 days which include self-harming, watching horror movies and getting up at unusual hours.
It is so named because of the manner in which some whales beach themselves on land before dying.
One of the tasks encourages youngsters to carve an image of a whale onto their arms.
The game culminates by encouraging its participants to take their own lives.
It has been reportedly linked to the deaths of young people in Russia.
But some media sites have dismissed claims of links between the game and deaths in Eastern Europe.
However, the issue has been taken seriously enough by several schools for them to issue warnings about it to parents.
A text message sent to St Columb's College parents said: "I want to warn you about 'Blue Whale Challenge', a dangerous game urging teens to complete tasks, including taking their own life in order to 'win'."
Yesterday the school took the step of placing a more substantive statement on its official website.
It said: "The school would like to bring your attention to the existence of a 'suicide game' which is a disturbing online phenomenon originating in Russia and spreading across Eastern Europe.
"We would like to alert parents and carers to the dangers of your child engaging in this distressing online trend and urge you to talk to your children about their online activity.
"Equally important is the need for parents to seek emotional support for those vulnerable children who may have participated in this 'game'."
Derry was plunged into grief in recent weeks following the deaths of two young men, Jack Glenn (23) and Dean Millar (18).
The bodies of both were pulled from the River Foyle.
The notices issued by St Columb's College follow a similar warning issued by St Michael's College in Enniskillen.
As reported by The Impartial Reporter newspaper, school principal Mark Henry issued a message to the parents stating: "We have been advised by Child Protection Services to bring to your attention the existence of a sinister online 'suicide game'. In light of this information, please continue to be mindful regarding your son's online activities."
If you are in need of help, you can contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000, the Samaritans on 028 9066 4422, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.