Mum issues urgent warning about deadly Blue Whale challenge after son almost died
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Featured Image Credit: Olga Tkachenko
**Warning: Contains descriptions of attempted suicide and threatening behaviour you may find upsetting.**
A mum has spoken out after her son allegedly got involved in a social media challenge which left him in critical condition.
Olga Tkachenko's 10-year-old son, Mykyta Kovalchuk, 10, jumped from a six-storey balcony in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Mykyta had reportedly been told to do so by an online user - a 'mentor' of a viral challenge allegedly going around on social media called the Blue Whale challenge, suspected as taking place worldwide, including Russia, Ukraine, India and the US.
According to Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership, the 'Blue Whale Challenge' first surfaced online in 2016 and 'encourages children and young people to undergo a series of 50 challenges that culminate in them taking their own lives'.
"Refusal to comply with the tasks can be met with threats by the administrators to harm the individual and their family.
"The administer states he can hack IP addresses so knows where the family home is," the document continues.
After Mykyta reportedly received a message from someone pressuring him into carrying out the challenge, the 10-year-old came home from school, allegedly saying he didn't feel well.
While Olga was out at the shops, Mykyta is said to have drunk alcohol before going to the balcony.
Olga returned to hear her son had been rushed to hospital in critical condition after falling 66ft.
Miraculously, Mykyta's spinal cord wasn't damaged, but he was still left in 'severe condition,' Olga said in a TV interview - injuries which led the boy to spend one month in intensive care and another month in general hospital.
Olga reached out to other parents, warning them of the challenge and noting, despite Mykyta's recovery, she still fears for his safety nine months after the incident.
Olga resolved: "He was a well-behaved child and good at studying. He had everything he needed. I could not understand how it could happen to him and to my family.
"[...] His abusers will hunt him again and that his life is still in danger. I live in constant anxiety and fear for my son's life. I fear they will find him again to get the job done this time.
"I want to warn parents about such situations that break the lives and destinies of many."
Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership warns parents to look out for posts or messages from Jonathan Galindo, any messages referring to #f57, #f40 or #IMaWhale challenge, alongside changes in children's eating or sleeping habits.
It advises any parents worried about their child's online usage to 'make online safety an ongoing conversation and let children know who they can come to if something they don't like happens online'.
It concludes: "Talk to children and young people about the dangers of challenges of this kind.
"Advise them not to open any messages or challenges of this kind."
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123