An adrenaline rush is a physical feeling of intense excitement and stimulation caused by the release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands, induced by various activities that may act as distractions in times of despair. This includes indulging in outdoor activities, playing violent-risk-taking games, or causing harm to oneself. The pain that is inflicted can release endorphins and a rush of adrenaline, which often becomes pleasurable to the sufferer and causes them to temporarily forget other negative feelings that they may be experiencing. Many times, these people seek external validation to deal with their isolation and suffering, and this need forces them to cause irreparable harm to themselves.
For a long time, video games have been heavily criticised for the violent aggression they inflict on their users, especially teenagers. In the midst of all this altercation, there came into existence several social media challenges that led their users, particularly teenagers, into self-harm, which often proved deadly.
The Blue Whale Suicide Game was an online social media group in which administrators asked users to complete a series of challenges that culminated in their killing themselves. The game instructs participants to complete 50 tasks over the course of 50 days, such as carving specific phrases or symbols on their hands, watching scary videos, waking up at odd hours, and so on. As the game progresses towards its final day, it results in suicide of the participant. The participant must demonstrate completion of the task by sending proof, such as photographs, to the “curator” or “the whale.” According to reports, the game is to blame for hundreds of teen suicides worldwide. The creator of the game admitted that the victims of the game are ‘biological waste’ and that he was “cleansing the society“.
Some bizarre challenges surfacing over social media platforms like WhatsApp and Tik-Tok are:
The choking challenge: This challenge gained popularity when teenagers began choking themselves to get high. The players were actually cutting the oxygen supply to their brain, leading to a temporary euphoria. This single game has claimed 250 to 1,000 lives per year in the US alone.
Ice and salt challenge: In this game, salt is poured on the body before immediately placing ice over it. This creates a burning sensation. The player has to bear the pain for the longest time. This game can be deadly. Ice, water, and salt mixtures can cause second- and third-degree burns.
The cutting challenge: Directly playing with vulnerable kids, this game makes teenagers cut themselves on purpose, click pictures of the injuries, and upload these online.
The cinnamon challenge: Cinnamon, which is a healthy food, can prove to be ghastly for health if taken in an uncontrolled manner. In this challenge, teenagers are asked to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon without drinking water. This amount of cinnamon can collapse your lungs and also cause choking. There have been cases in which people have died from this challenge.
The rising number of deaths in the name of “challenges” calls for understanding the idea behind getting attracted to such life-threatening games. Psychologists worldwide feel that people, especially youngsters, are increasingly turning to external sources of validation. This is aided by drawbacks in present parenting styles that push teenagers into isolation, who are then often enveloped by online games that draw them into the limelight.
Analysis of suicide-themed Instagram posts indicate that self-harm was present in the majority of the posts. Posts about suicide ideation elicited higher engagement than posts that did not. Such challenges give teenagers their privacy, the attention, and the validation they yearn for.
This dark side of the internet calls for attention to transforming the social system, particularly in the field of mental health issues.
Bushra Faridi is a student pursuing Geography Honours from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Shoa Falak
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.