There are calls for parents to be on high alert after a US teenager's death joined the growing list of suicides around the world that have been linked to the "Blue Whale challenge".
Isaiah Gonzales, 15, took his life on Saturday morning (8 July). In the aftermath, Gonzales' family have warned other worried parents to monitor their children's social media feeds and smartphones.
Over 130 deaths have been linked to Blue Whale – also known as F57 – in Russia, while the death of an Irish teenager in May also raised fears that the sinister challenge could also make its way to the UK.
The incidents have led to a number of schools sending warnings to parents about the dangers of anonymously-run groups on social media platforms.
Blue Whale reportedly sees social media group administrators – dubbed 'Masters' – task victims with increasingly vile challenges over a 50-day period. Russia's Facebook-like social website VKontakte (VK) is commonly attributed as the game's primary platform.
To "win" the game on the final day, participants are told to commit suicide. Reports from Russia have previously suggested that should the "player" decline, the administrators then threaten to kill their family.
While evidence of Blue Whale's spectre emerged on Instagram in recent months, the game itself remains much of a mystery - but a Reddit thread which claims to have determined the game's 50 tasks has begun to circle online.
Blue whale warning signs for parents and guardians
The post in question includes both a translation of the 50 "dares" using Google Translate and Yandex from an unverified source, as well as a full translation from an unspecified "Russian news site".
Below is an edited (for safety reasons) list quoted verbatim, and these are the sorts of activities, behaviours and physical signs that concerned parents and guardians should look out for:
Blue Whale challenge dares
1. Carve with a razor "f57" on your hand, send a photo to the curator.
2. Wake up at 4.20 a.m. and watch psychodelic and scary videos that curator sends you.
4. Draw a whale on a sheet of paper, send a photo to curator.
5. If you are ready to "become a whale", carve "YES" on your leg. (edited)
6. Task with a cipher.
7. Carve "f40" on your hand, send a photo to curator.
8. Type "#i_am_whale (rus. #я_кит) in your VKontakte status.
9. You have to overcome your fear.
10. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to a roof (the higher the better)
11. Carve a whale on your hand with a razor, send a photo to curator.
12. Watch psychodelic and horror videos all day.
13. Listen to music that "they" (curators) send you.
20. The curator checks if you are trustworthy
21. Have a talk "with a whale" (with another player like you or with a curator) on Skype
22. Go to a roof and sit on the edge with your legs dangling
23. Another task with a cipher
24. Secret task
25. Have a meeting with a "whale"
26. The curator tells you the date of your death and you have to accept it
27. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to rails (visit any railroad that you can find)
28. Don't talk to anyone all day
29. Make a vow that "you're a whale"
30-49. Everyday you wake up at 4:20 a.m., watch horror videos, listen to music that "they" send you, make 1 cut on your body per day, talk "to a whale".
All reports of Blue Whale-linked suicides remain unverified at this point, with some believing that the challenge itself is a mere hoax. The alleged 'Master' behind the Blue Whale, Filipp Budeikin, who labelled his victims as "biological waste" pleaded guilty to charges of inciting suicide during a court hearing on 11 May.
The Samaritans provides a free support service for those who need to talk to someone in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Visit Samaritans.org or call 116 123 (UK) or 116 123 (ROI), 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Visit this website to find a support phone number in your country.