Officials believe an online game is to blame for the August 2017 suicide of an 11-year-old boy in LeFlore County.
The game, commonly known as "Blue Whale," targets vulnerable youth and walks them through a 50-step scenario that ultimately leads to the player's suicide, LeFlore County Sheriff Rob Seale said in a news release.
Evidence gathered by LeFlore County detectives, along with information from the state medical examiner, determined the boy was participating in the game, Seale said.
The boy is believed to have undergone bullying at school, which Seale said is a common factor in those who participate in the game.
"These juveniles already have underlying issues such as bullying, severe depression, substance abuse, family issues and others which led them to this game," Seale said.
Seale described the game as follows:
The person playing the game is assigned an "administrator," who leads the player through the steps and assigns them tasks to complete.
Upon completion of these tasks, the player is instructed to complete the final task, which is to kill themselves.
Two years ago, a 14-year-old boy in LeFlore County killed himself as a direct result of depression and anxiety from bullying at his school, Seale said.
"We cannot stress enough to parents of kids, the importance of being closely involved in their lives so they may identify early on, problems their children may be having in and out of the school setting," Seale said. "Being able to pinpoint signs of depression, unusual/inappropriate behavior or possible substance abuse, can help get your child the professional help needed to prevent another tragedy like this from happening again."
Seale advised parents to closely monitor their children's phone use and online browsing to ensure that they are not on dangerous or inappropriate sites.
"Closely monitoring what your child is texting, messaging, or browsing can also help you identify potential personal issues they may be experiencing and get them the help they need to resolve these issues," Seale said.
There have been deaths in Colorado, California and Virginia related to the game, Seale said.