Editor's note: We have chosen to not list the steps of the Blue Whale Challenge so as to not encourage others into participating in the risky behaviors associated with the challenge. Please note that 5NEWS does not typically cover suicides. However, we are sharing details about this to warn parents and students to possibly prevent future deaths.
LEFLORE COUNTY (KFSM) -- The LeFlore County sheriff is warning about an online suicide challenge and the dangers of bullying after the recent death of a local 11-year-old boy.
The boy, who was from the northern part of the county, appeared to be participating in the "Blue Whale Challenge," an online game with 50 steps that culminates in the individual committing suicide, according to a release posted on the department's Facebook page.
"The game originated in Russia few years ago. The person who instituted this game or developed it is in jail in Russia now," said Leflore County Sheriff Rob Seale.
Investigators said they believe bullying was a contributing factor that encouraged the boy to participate in the game, the release states. The boy was believed to be bullied inside and outside of school during the previous school year.
"This game is not the only factor leading to these tragedies," said sheriff Rob Seale in the release. "These juveniles already have underlying issues such as bullying, severe depression, substance abuse, family issues and others which led them to this game. Two years ago, a 14 year old juvenile male here in our county committed suicide as a direct result of depression and anxiety from bullying at his school."
Seale asked parents and those close with students to closely monitor kids' texting and browsing. He asked them to take steps to combat problems that arise so that kids don't find dangerous sites like the "Blue Whale Challenge."
"These terrible situations not only affect families for years to come, but affect all those who respond to the calls," Seale said. "It has a profound effect on Law Enforcement and EMS personnel. It affects entire communities and schools and is even more tragic because with attention and monitoring, most of these situations could have been prevented through intervention and professional help.