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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Weekend
Tencent takes action to tackle "Blue Whale" suicide chat groups
    2017-May-12  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

A SOCIAL media challenge called “Blue Whale,” goading young people to kill themselves, has spread to China, reports China News Service. Amid fears the sinister suicide game could quickly proliferate on its platforms, Chinese social media giant Tencent has leaped into action by taking down chat groups it deems suspicious and blocking the search of related key words.

On its major social networking platform QQ, 12 chat groups have been shut down for suspicious chat topics and content since May 6, when Tencent launched a thorough investigation into the matter. Currently, key words related to the suicide challenge can no longer be searched for on QQ.

However, QQ’s security team says the topic “Blue Whale” is gaining heat across the platform, with the number of suspicious social media groups on the rise. An ongoing investigation is under way.

What is the ‘Blue Whale’ challenge?

The “Blue Whale” suicide game refers to online social media groups which encourage participants to kill themselves.

It’s said that a group administrator assigns daily tasks to members, which they have to complete over 50 days.

Tasks include self-harm, watching horror movies and waking up at unusual hours, but these gradually get more extreme. On the 50th day, the administrators reportedly issue an instruction to commit suicide.

How many people have died?

The game is believed to have originated from Russia in 2013, and has since been reported in countries across Central Asia and South America. At least 130 suicides of youngsters between November 2015 and April 2016 have been linked to “Blue Whale,” according to Russian news reports. Almost all of the fatalities were found to be members of the same Internet group.

Yet Russian police have not officially confirmed the deaths were due to “Blue Whale” groups.

Besides Russia, there have been reports of “Blue Whale” suicide cases in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Many of the deaths have been linked to Internet groups.

What to do if you come across it?

Suicide challenges like “Blue Whale” organize and instigate others to commit suicide, which is a criminal offense.

Tencent says netizens who come across suspected groups online should report the matter to police and the respective platform.

Mental health issues warned

Experts urge parents to watch their children’s mental health closely.

Li Xianyun, deputy director of the Beijing Psychological Crisis Research and Intervention Center, said Tencent has reached out to the center about collaborating on a mental health initiative. Li’s center is one of the leading suicide prevention organizations in China.

“Tencent is working with us to develop a system that sends out emergency phone numbers to people who express that they want to commit suicide,” Li told Sixth Tone, a Shanghai-based online publication. “They plan to send out notices in group chats or on Web pages so that people have access to help.”

Li advises families to take children’s threats of self-harm seriously and to seek professional help when necessary. “Parents sometimes ignore the signals their children send,” Li said. “When a child says he or she is going to commit suicide, [parents] should pay attention.”

According to estimates from the mental health center at the Chinese Center for Disease Control, between 5 and 6 percent of Chinese people were living with depression in 2015. The issue is even more pressing among youth: A 2016 study showed that almost 1.2 million Chinese people aged 15 to 24 have depressive disorders, and that number is on the rise.

(SD-Agencies)

 

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