ANOTHER six 'blue whale challenge' cases have been detected in Spain – this time, two boys and a girl at a Barcelona province high school, aged just 12 and 13, plus two more in Barcelona city and one in Lleida aged between 12 and 16.
Staff at the school in Santa Coloma de Gramenet alerted the police and regional education authorities of the children's cases, and revealed that one of them had progressed to at least the halfway mark in the 50 'challenges', which involves carving a whale into the participant's arm.
Starting with seemingly harmless tasks, such as drawing a whale on a piece of paper, then spending all night watching horror films, the 'challenges' – one per day – become increasingly more difficult and the final one, number 50, is to attempt suicide.
Each stage has to be filmed or photographed and uploaded so the 'challengers' can see the evidence.
Spreading from Russia to the Soviet States and then Latin America, the 'blue whale challenge' has already led to several teenage suicides.
The schools involved are closely monitoring the children and have begun warning pupils about the dangers of the internet and 'stupid games', as they have described them, on social networks.
And police say the 'blue whale challenge' is not in fact a game at all, but a criminal offence – those who 'monitor' participants are guilty of incitement to suicide, which carries a jail sentence.
Regional authorities have alerted all other schools in Catalunya so they can do likewise, and keep an eye out for possible 'abnormal behaviour' among students.
Some schools say the majority of their pupils are sensible and would not only avoid becoming involved, but would actively advise teachers of suspected cases – even at the risk of ridicule or loss of group status.
A total of eight cases have now been detected in Spain – one in Palma de Mallorca, and seven in Catalunya.
The first case came to light when a 15-year-old girl from Catalunya was admitted to a psychiatric ward on April 28 as a result.