Madurai teen was playing a 'Blue Whale-like game', say cops: Who was giving instructions?

Investigating officials found two images of blue whale, one on the teen's forearm and another drawn on the floor.
Madurai teen was playing a 'Blue Whale-like game', say cops: Who was giving instructions?
Madurai teen was playing a 'Blue Whale-like game', say cops: Who was giving instructions?

A day after a 19-year-old ended his life by hanging himself, the Madurai police has confirmed that the deceased was playing the Blue Whale Challenge game or a version of it. The police are now investigating how and who gave the instructions of the challenge to the teenager.

On Wednesday, around 4:15pm, Vignesh’s body was found hanging at his residence in Mottamalai in Madurai. Police had found the image of a blue whale on his left fore arm.

The Blue Whale Challenge involves 50 tasks with the final one pushing the player to commit suicide by jumping off a building . In this case, Vignesh had also left a note with the blue whale drawn on it, with the warning that the game was dangerous and a trap.

While no other marks were spotted on his body, investigating officials did find a blue whale drawn with cleaning fluid in the bathroom of his residence.

"Yesterday we found that a picture of a blue whale was drawn on the floor of the bathroom using some sort of a cleaning liquid. We are not sure if he played any other tasks, but because there were two blue whale images, we believe he was playing the challenge or a version," Madurai SP Manivannan told TNM.

In investigations that followed this death, police found a WhatsApp group on Vignesh’s phone comprising of 75 members. Official sources told TNM that other students in this group will be questioned regarding possible exchanges on the challenge in the group.

Investigating officials told TNM that Vignesh has been withdrawn and isolated from his family since he bought a phone in June and got a free data connection. He was spotted on the terrace by his brother Satya Moorthy twice.

When Satya Moorthy confronted his brother about his depression, Vignesh warned that if he informed their mother that he was sitting on the terrace, he would commit suicide.  

His brother also said that Vignesh was not ready to share what was wrong with him. He said, “The night before he committed suicide, he went missing for a short while in the dead of the night. I went out in search of him but could not find him. When I returned later, he was found sleeping. He was found distressed for the past two days, but did not say why,” he told TOI.

The Madurai district SP, N. Manivannan however denies that the family were aware of the dangers of the blue whale challenge. The officials says that the family was not aware of any of this and could only make out that something was troubling the 19-year-old.

The police suspect that the instructions for the game could have been altered to suit the local conditions.

For instance, the building that Vignesh lived in was only 11 feet fall, according to sources. This would have made it impossible for him to jump to his death. In addition to this, there were no photos on his phone that indicated Vignesh having completed any of the other tasks associated to the game.  Blue Whale challenge ends with the victim jumping off a terrace. At almost every stage of the challenge, the victim is required to click selfies and send to the curator.

"The only picture he has taken is of the forearm. We are investigating to find if there are more pictures," an investigating officer told TNM.

To prevent more children falling prey to the game, Mannivannan said that they have set up a counselling cell headed by Additional Superintendent of Police, Kalavathi. The cell will include social activists and policemen.

Madurai police will also be carrying out a sensitisation campaign within 10 days for students to stay away from dangerous online games. They have also formed a special team to keep a track of suspicious activities based on inputs from parents and teachers. People can reach out at WhatsApp number on 770880611.

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