A district court in St. Petersburg has convicted an adolescent identified as “Elizaveta F.” of inducing teenagers to kill themselves. Between July and August 2017, the young woman corresponded with another girl, sharing multimedia content “intended to induce depression,“ and then convinced her to kill herself, offering advice.
“Ms. F.” also encouraged the girl to play the game “Blue Whale,” which involves a series of tasks, ending in suicide. She targeted another teenager between July and September last year, but it’s unknown if this also ended in suicide. The defendant confessed to the charges. She was sentenced to a year of probation and mandatory outpatient psychiatric treatment.
In May 2016, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta sparked a national controversy when it reported on “death groups” on Vkontakte that were allegedly responsible for more than 100 suicides. Federal investigators later detained a man named Filipp Budeikin, the administrator of one of the largest “death groups,” and in July 2017 he was sentenced to three years and four months in prison.
In June 2017, Vladimir Putin signed legislation criminalizing the creation of “death groups” that encourage young people to commit acts of self-harm.