MOSCOW — One of the ringleaders of the “Blue Whale Suicide Challenge” in Russia has been sentenced to three years behind bars after admitting his involvement in the suicide attempts of two teenage girls.
Philipp Budeikin, 22, told police following his arrest that he thought he was ridding society of those he considered to be “biological waste.”
“There are people, and there is biological waste. Those who do not represent any value for society, who cause or will cause only harm to society,” he stated. “I was cleaning our society of such people … It was necessary to distinguish normal [people] from biological rubbish.”
Budeikin had been investigated and believed to be tied to 16 deaths in the country. He was only sentenced, however, for the attempted suicides of two girls, ages 15 and 16, who either failed to carry out the final instructions or survived the chilling challenge.
As previously reported, the social media game includes instructions to carry out various tasks over a 50-day period that negatively affect the person’s mental health: from drawing a blue whale on their arm and cutting themselves, to watching horror films, to depriving themselves of sleep. The player is then asked to ultimately commit suicide.
“Philipp and his aides at first attracted children into [social media] groups by using mega-scary videos,” Anton Breido of the Investigative Committee in Russia told Metro News. “Their task was to attract as many children as possible, then figure out those who would be the most affected by psychological manipulation.”
Nonetheless, after being taken into custody last fall, Budeikin has received a number of love letters from teenage girls, according to officials with Kresty Jail in St. Petersburg.
“Most likely, those young girls who fell in love with Philip … were not receiving enough love and attention from their parents, and this handsome young man from the internet provided certain support for them and gave that attention they needed,” psychologist Veronika Matyushina told The Mirror.
As previously reported, last month, police arrested another Russian man believed to be behind the social media game—a 26-year-old postman named Ilya Sidorov.
Sidorov reportedly broke down crying when being questioned by police about the matter.
“What was the final task? How does the game end?” he was asked, according to recorded video of the questioning.
“To commit suicide,” Sidorov replied.
He had been reported to police by foster parent Iraida Ryzhenkova after a teenager she had taken in had to be transported to the hospital.
“In May [of] this year, a 14-year-old girl from Chelyabinsk region was taken to hospital with slash wounds after attempting to commit suicide,” Russian Interior Ministry spokeswoman Colonel Irina Volk told the Daily Mail.
The game has also affected teenagers in the United States as earlier this month, the parents of 15-year-old Isaiah Gonzalez buried their son after he was reportedly dared to kill himself and stream his death on social media. He was found hanging in his bedroom closet with his phone positioned nearby to broadcast his final moments.
A 16-year-old girl in Atlanta, Georgia also committed suicide earlier this year after participating in the Blue Whale Challenge, according to a report from WNCN. The girl’s name has not been released, but her brother told the news outlet, “[T]here needs to be awareness—people need to know, parents need to know, to look for signs, to monitor their kids a little better. And try to know and understand who they’re talking to and when.”