“As parents, we still have the power to turn all this around. And as a society we’re going to have to understand that nurturing positive connections – especially for children and youngsters – is the most important thing in life.”
The “Blue Whale” challenge makes young people carry out a series of tasks and then commit suicide. It brings up old feelings about my sister Kaly who took her own life when she was 23. Not that there was a sick game like this back in the ’80’s, but it has brought it all to the surface again, and here are my recommendations for worried parents.
Read on to see why the Blue Whale Challenge is so powerful and what worried parents can do.
I try not to dwell on the past because it hurts. My beautiful sister Kaly would have been 54 by now, but she hasn’t been around for the last 30 years. When she was 23 she spent a few days in a Vancouver police station getting a license to have a weapon. Then she bought a rifle and bullets, checked herself into a hotel and shot herself.
How did all this start? My sister was the most beautiful and popular girl in our high school in Montreal. One day my father decided that we’re moving to Israel. She was yanked out of life in Canada at a very critical point in a young person’s development, and never quite got over it.
I always knew she was super smart and was so proud when she was selected for an IDF air force course that takes the most intelligent high school graduates in Israel. She also completed the yearlong course at the top of her class, and even signed on for an extra year of army service to be accepted into the special unit. But when all the other geniuses started their special assignment, the army decided that she didn’t have security clearance to perform the role because we hadn’t been in Israel long enough.
After completing her army service she took herself on vacation to Greece, but I called her after a few days to tell her she had to come home for our older sister’s funeral (who had died giving birth to her third child). After that life-changing experience of losing a sibling, she planned another elaborate getaway and this time it was a lot farther. The next thing I knew she was living in a commune in Vancouver, doing some kind of mushrooms to pass the time, and getting herself arrested for falling asleep in a stranger’s car.
By the time we got the phone call from my brother in Vancouver at 1am, I was tired of hearing all the bad news about her, and actually hung up the phone. I knew it was probably bad news. And it was.
WHY THE BLUE WHALE IS SO POWERFUL
So I can’t hear about all this Blue Whale business today and remain aloof. Reading about the latest victims of this sick new game for youngsters makes me want to cry, but I know my beautiful sister is never coming back.
Over the years, I have come to realize the deeper reasons for why people feel so empty, and especially young people. Highly intelligent youngsters like my sister suffer the most because they are hounded with questions about the meaning of life, and feel like there is no point to anything in our world. They don’t see a bright future worth striving for, as my sister actually wrote in her diary, “What is the point of everything?”
So on the one hand, young people are bogged down by pressure that is building up inside of them, and on the other they feel a complete lack of control over their lives. So imagine the relief of handing over the reins to a complete stranger who gives instructions on a daily basis. This actually allows them to feel free from dealing with their own issues or thinking about their frustrations, and especially free from thinking for themselves.
As counter-intuitive as it may sound, our children don’t really want to be as “free” as they proclaim. Ultimately, they are looking for someone or something bigger than themselves to guide them from the outside and relieve their pressure. This is actually the case for people of all ages. And our society falls short in providing the positive guidance that our youngsters can relate to.
In the last 30 years since I have lost my sister, I have seen the world becoming increasingly cold and alienated. Our growing egoism is making us increasingly indifferent to each other as human beings, and we are forcing the younger generation to grow into such an environment.
WHAT WORRIED PARENTS CAN DO TODAY
Similar to my sister, throughout my life I also felt consumed by existential questions. 15 years ago it led me to find answers in the authentic wisdom of Kabbalah. A wisdom that has opened my eyes to see that all humans are wired to connect and this is where we find meaning and purpose in our lives.
My experience with my daughter has proven to me just how important it is to communicate this to our children. Ever since she was born, I decided to do everything in my power to ensure her always being in a positive social environment and help her see the benefits in nurturing positive human connections.
Today, rather than groping around in the dark looking for answers, she knows how to connect with a group of her peers in a healthy way. She rollerblades every day but is already completely aware that the most adrenaline she will ever get is by making an effort to rise above her growing ego, and nurture deep and meaningful connections with those around her.
So here are some recommendations for parents with young children:
#1 – Be your child’s friend and through that become the first person they confide in for anything important in their lives. As your child’s friend, you will be in a more advantageous position to protect and guide them from the increasing dangers of today’s warped society.
#2 – Realize that the environment a person chooses defines them, so think very carefully about the environment your child is growing up in. What kind of examples are they exposed to throughout the day, at home and elsewhere? Being mean to other children to be cool? Substance abuse and self-harm? Even if your child is a good kid, being in a certain environment will influence them and by the time you realize that, it may be too late.
#3 – Spend more time doing things together. We live in a world that doesn’t really require that like in the past. But if you are inclined to do this, you will find the way.
#4 – Pass on the wisdom you have even before your child is old enough to fully understand what you are talking about. All children question the meaning of life at some point; what is the point of all this? School, friends, the internet, etc.? It all appears pointless and that is why they seek out things like substances and the Blue Whale game. However, if your child feels that you have something to impart to them that others don’t, this will tie them to you forever. From the age of 5-6 to 10-11 you have an opportunity to bond in a very profound way with your child, before they disconnect. Then no matter how far away they go, they will always remain connected to you because they know you have the wisdom to guide them.
As parents, we still have the power to turn all this around. And as a society we’re going to have to understand that nurturing positive connections – especially for children and youngsters – is the most important thing in life. It’s rooted in our nature. This is something today’s world is not giving them and that is why they will bond with anything they can, even if it’s instructions coming from an unknown source. If it gives them a sense of belonging to something bigger, they will follow it.
Therefore, we have to use that and allow them to feel like they belong to something positive, important and warm. We need to give them that environment. And even if we can’t change the world around us, we can start doing this in our own homes right now.