Man behind 'Blue Whale' suicide is jailed, but says he is 'cleansing society'
The Russian man behind a social media challenge which urges young people to kill themselves says he is "cleansing society".
The online social media game reportedly targets at-risk participants, taking them through a series of challenges over 50 days that culminate in suicide.
The challenges include waking up at 4am every day, watching violent videos, and self-harming.
Russian police have linked it to dozens of youth suicides and have reportedly jailed the game's creator, 21-year-old Philipp Budeikin.
Budeikin confessed to his crimes but is not repentant, telling Russian police his victims were "biological waster" that were "happy to die" and that he was "cleansing society," according to Metro.
"There are people – and there is biological waste. Those who do not represent any value for society. Who cause or will cause only harm to society. I was cleaning our society of such people," Budeikin said from his prison cell.
"They were dying happy. I was giving them what they didn't have in real life: warmth, understanding, connections."
He is being held at Kresty jail in Saint Petersburg and receiving dozens of love letters from teenage girls - something Russian officials say they are powerless to prevent.
"Philipp and his aides at first attracted children into VK [chat] groups by using mega-scary videos," Russian investigator Anton Breido told local media.
"Their task was to attract as many children as possible, then figure out those who would be the most affected by psychological manipulation.
"Those who stayed were given much stronger tasks like cutting their veins, to balance on a roof top, to kill an animal and post a video or pictures to prove it.
"Most children left at this stage. A small group that was left obediently went through all the tasks, with teenagers being physiologically ready to follow whatever the administrators told them, no matter how strange or scary the tasks."
In New Zealand, NetSafe Director of Outreach, Sean Lyons, said the organisation was aware of the Blue Whale challenge.
"We've heard of the blue whale suicide challenge overseas, but haven't received any reports through our helpline of people being directly affected by it in New Zealand.
"There have been reports of it being run through social media groups, websites and mobile apps but the premise is always the same."
In the challenge, Lyons said an administrator or curator is assigned who then gives a person a series of 'tasks' to complete over time.
"These tasks get more bizarre as time goes on, and at the end of the challenge the person 'wins' the game by committing suicide."
WHERE TO GET HELP:
Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354
Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757
Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116
Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email email@example.com
0800 WHATSUP children's helpline - phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at www.whatsup.co.nz.
Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.
Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.
For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).