Russian police have arrested a 17-year-old girl suspected of masterminding the 'Blue Whale challenge' suicide game. The unnamed teenager allegedly encouraged vulnerable teens to commit a variety of horrifying acts in a 50-day span before blackmailing them into taking their own lives via social media.
Russian state investigators believe the girl is the primary administrator behind the 'death group' craze, with the arrest taking place in the Khabarovsk Krai region in south-eastern Russia.
Footage released by police showed officers searching the suspect's home in Kamchatka, where they found evidence supposedly linking her to the grisly online game.
This included drawings found at the property showing images of self-harm and the Blue Whale challenge's original creator, Filipp Budeikin.
A 21-year-old man was also arrested under suspicion of being connected to up to a "dozen" alleged Blue Whale suicides.
"This administrator was sending particular tasks – often life-threatening – to each of several dozen members of the group," said Colonel Irina Volk of the Russian Interior Ministry (via Daily Mail). "In contrast to similar groups, teenagers in this group were blackmailed with death threats against them or their relatives for not completing the tasks."
Over 130 teenage deaths have been linked to Blue Whale – also known as F57 – in Russia, while the death of an Irish teenager in May raised fears that the sinister challenge could reach youngsters in the UK. The incidents have led to a number of schools sending warnings to parents about the dangers of private groups on social media.
Blue Whale is allegedly run by social media group administrators, also referred to as 'Masters', who set victims increasingly vile tasks over a 50-day period. On the final day 'players' are told to take their lives under threat that their families will be killed should they decline. Russia's social website VKontakte (VK) is commonly attributed as the game's origin.
A supposed leaked Blue Whale challenge list recently exposed the game's shocking tasks. Parents have been advised to look out for similar telltale signs that their children could be partaking in the deadly game.