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‘Blue Whale Challenge’ raising concerns for some school officials, parents

Pawtucket School Superintendent Patti DiCenso sent out a robocall to parents, letting them know about the game “The Blue Whale Challenge.” (WJAR)

School administrators in Pawtucket are warning parents about a dangerous game that encourages students to harm themselves and commit suicide.

Superintendent Patti DiCenso sent out a robocall to parents Wednesday, letting them know about the game “The Blue Whale Challenge.”

DiCenso said the game challenges students to complete 50 tasks that become increasingly dangerous and harmful. The final task is for students to take their own lives.

According to the superintendent, students tag each other on social media and challenge others to play.

The robocall comes just weeks after administrators in Pawtucket alerted parents to the Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why,” which tells the story of a teenager who takes her own life.

“Both ‘13 Reasons Why’ and a website like this contest can have a devastating impact if people take these things to heart,” said Denise Panichas, the executive director of The Samaritans of Rhode Island, a nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention.

Panichas said it's important for parents to talk with their children about suicide.

“Whether it's ‘13 Reasons Why’ or whether it's the Blue Whale Challenge -- actually look at the site with your child, learn more about it. Take the stigma away from these sites. You have control,” Panichas said.

DiCenso said the district knows of at least one student who began playing the game by clicking on a Facebook message. She said that student has been getting help from a social worker.

DiCenso told NBC 10 News she obtained a list of harmful challenges from a student who was interested in playing the game. She said no student has taken his or her own life as a result of the game.

For more information about suicide prevention, click here.

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