“Blue Whale” self-harming fears unwarranted say Milan investigators

Milan confirms only one self-harming case.

Milan detectives receiving numerous worried reports from parents, guardians and teachers about suspected “Blue Whale” activities insist that this “psychosis”, as they describe it, is unwarranted: only one real case has ever come to light in the Milan area.

The name refers to a widely reported internet phenomenon in which a “tutor” persuades “adepts” to carry out 50 tasks of self-harm over a 50-day period, culminating in suicide. It is said to have originated in Russia, and cases have been reported across the world. Several adolescent suicides have been linked to the game, including in Italy.

Investigators told media that they have opened scores of files after receiving reports of self-harm or suicide attempts, but only one case last June actually proved to have any connection with the game: no further “tutors” have been uncovered.

Detectives are continuing to monitor reports, some from the same school as the victim in last June’s case. But they are convinced there is no “Blue Whale” activity involving “tutors” and “adepts”, even if some adolescents may have been influenced by media reporting.

Although the game acquired a high media profile, more reasoned reports, including on respected debunking websites and by the European Commission’s Safer Internet Centre, describe it as originally a hoax, but which is now becoming “problematic”.