A TEENAGE girl who joined in the perilous 'Blue Whale' challenge on Facebook has been admitted to a psychiatric ward in Catalunya, and is the first case uncovered so far in Spain.
Said to have started in Russia and spread to the former Soviet States and then to Latin America, the foolhardy 'challenge' involves completing 50 'tasks' in 50 days, of increasing difficulty.
They start off relatively easy, but by the 50th, the participant is 'dared' to attempt suicide.
Several teenage suicides have been detected as a result.
In the case of the 15-year-old from Catalunya – whose exact location, or even province, have not been revealed – she had got around halfway through the 50 'tasks' and completed the one which involved carving a giant whale into her arm.
She was due to reach 'task 50' this summer, in which she was expected to attempt suicide.
The 'challenge' operates on a 'chain-mail' system, in which participants are first dared by someone else who is part-way through the 50 days, and the newcomer is told that once he or she starts, they are not allowed to back out.
They start off with a 'task' as simple as drawing a blue whale on a piece of paper, and participants are expected to film themselves completing each one.
Then, they progress to being challenged by Facebook and chat apps on their mobiles to spend 24 hours awake watching horror films, cut their lips, make a hole in their hands, and carving a whale into their arm with a knife.
Sources from the girl's high school – it is not known whether teachers or fellow pupils – raised the alarm when they saw she had been behaving in a 'strange' manner and then noticed the self-mutilation when she was in class.
Catalunya's regional military police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, were alerted and the youngster has been placed in a psychiatric ward for her own safety.