UPDATE: On Wednesday, a Siberian court found Philipp Budeikin guilty for instigating the suicides of two teenage girls in Russia through the creation of the Blue Whale Challenge meme, Mic reported.
The 22-year-old will serve three years in an open jail for those two suicides, The Daily Dot reported.
Budeikin claims to have created the meme, which has lured multiple teenagers into suicide, to "cleanse society," according to Mic. He confessed to persuading 17 Russian teens to kill themselves, but was only investigated for 16.
"There are people, and there is biological waste," he had said, according to The Daily Dot. "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."
Social media platforms are also making moves to combat the Blue Whale Challenge by offering support if you search for the hashtag.
The family of 15-year-old Isaiah Gonzalez, who had live-streamed his suicide over the weekend, said they believe that his death is part of a larger, darker trend overtaking social media, The Washington Post reported.
The death group is preying on frustrated teenagers. Known as the Blue Whale Challenge, it's a series of 50 daily tasks sent to someone from a sensei-like "curator" on the dark web, Bloomberg reported. The tasks range from watching horror movies for hours on end to self-harming. The last order is suicide.
If someone gets cold feet, they're sent threats about their family's well-being or personal information.
In order to play the challenge, someone has to post a beckoning call on social media using certain hashtags.
People attribute the challenge's name to lyrics of a song called "Burn" by Russian band Lumen. The song is about a "huge blue whale" that's trying to "break through the net."
Jorge Gonzalez said his son had sent his friends pictures of his completed tasks, which were of "satanic stuff," such as drinking bleach, but they paid them no mind.
"If one of them would have said something, one of them would have called us, he would have been alive," Scarlett Cantu-Gonzalez, Isaiah's sister, said, according to The Washington Post.
As Bloomberg put it: "A teenager who is contemplating suicide will always look for like-minded people, and social networks are just the easiest place to look."
Gonzalez's death is one among many recent teen suicides linking back to the Blue Whale Challenge. Cases have been reported in Europe and Brazil, and most prominently in Russia, where it allegedly originated.
Schools across the United States are now issuing warnings to parents regarding the challenge.
One United Kingdom-residing teenager was "curious and bored," so he decided to try out the game, SkyNews reported.
"They start psychologically manipulating you," he said. "It is very professionally done. You become a bit of a zombie."
He continued: "I didn't feel like I needed to kill myself. I felt I needed to complete the task. I only had this thought in my head — that I need to complete the task."
Luckily, his parents noticed his strange suicide-obsessed behavior and notified an officer to detain the teenager before he could complete the task.
Officers have arrested several "curators." One was a 21-year-old Russian man who confessed to leading 16 people to kill themselves with the game, SkyNews reported. Another was a 26-year-old Russian postman.
Jorge Gonzalez urges parents and family members to check their children's phones and social media accounts.
"I want them to go through their phones, look at their social media," he told KSAT. "If they're on that challenge already, they can catch that from happening."
Banner/thumbnail credit: Wikimedia Commons, Shulman