A Texas family is blaming a viral internet game for pushing their fifteen-year-old son to commit suicide and calling on other parents to closely monitor their children’s online presence to ensure that it does not claim other young lives.
“I want them to go through their phones, look at their social media,” Jorge Gonzales of San Antonio told KSAT. “If they’re on that challenge already, they can catch that from happening.”
Gonzales was referring to the Blue Whale Challenge, an online list of 50 tasks targeted toward young people that are meant to be carried out over the course of several weeks. Followers are eventually instructed to perform acts of self-harm and mutilation before ultimately killing themselves.
Isaiah Gonzales was a happy teenager who was known for his infectious smile and love for pranks; on Saturday, he was found hanged in his bedroom closet. His father claims that he found a cellphone propped up against a shoe that was angled in such a way to broadcast Isaiah’s suicide on social media.
San Antonio police claim that they have received no reports of the Blue Whale Challenge, but the infamous social media phenomenon has become well known to many young people. Reports indicate that online predators coerce vulnerable targets into carrying out the dangerous tasks by contacting them on their cellphones, sometimes even threateningly.
The Gonzales family claims that Isaiah’s friends knew that he was doing the Blue Whale Challenge but did not inform anyone – even though they knew that the “game” culminated in the victim taking their own life.
“They blew it off like it was a joke and if one of them would have said something, one of them would have called us, he would have been alive,” said Scarlett Cantu-Gonzales, Isaiah’s sister.