WARNING - DISTRESSING CONTENT: Police are issuing grave warnings over the "Blue Whale" suicide game that began targeting teens in Russia and may now be finding its way around the globe.
The Blue Whale reportedly targets players between 10 and 14 year old, pushing them into completing a list of pained daily tasks such as waking up in the middle of the night, cutting shapes into their skin or contemplating death.
As the game progresses over several week, participants reach a final task - committing suicide.
The game that has been spreading online among teens has led to warnings from police across Europe and Russia, Central Asia and North and South America.
Concerns were further realised when an 18-year-old Ukranian girl threw herself off a bridge onto a rail line in Portugal earlier in April.
She remarkably survived the fall, suffering a broken leg.
“For the last 10 days, the player needs to wake up at an appointed early morning hour, listen to music, and contemplate death,” cybercrime expert Robert Muggah told Bloomberg.
“Those who get cold feet and want to leave the game receive threats, often that their parents will be killed.”
— Chris Valdez (@Moose_Pancakes) April 29, 2017
Unconfirmed reports of kids falling into the trap have come out of Russia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine — and now from Curitiba, Brazil,
“The expansion of Internet connectivity and social media has created new opportunities for entering into suicide pacts,” Mr Muggah said.
“The practice of suicide has migrated online, and younger people may be acting alone or as part of a wider collective.”
There have been no reports about the Blue Whale in Australia but authorities around the world want the game shut down before it makes its way across the country.
Parents are being urged to watch for warning signs within vulnerable children and teens.
Online challenges that dare or cajole teens into risky behavior — from the cinnamon and duct-tape challenges to the oft-deadly choking game — are nothing new.
That includes reports of suicide, such as the 11-year-old boy who recently killed himself after learning through text messages of the suicide of his 13-year-old girlfriend — which turned out to be a cruel social media prank.
In 2008, an alleged Internet “cult” led to the suicides of seven teenage friends in a small UK town.