A San Antonio family is grieving the loss of their youngest child, a 15-year-old boy.
His death, they said, was the result of a dangerous social media game.
Isaiah Gonzalez’s parents say he showed no warning signs of sadness or depression. Isaiah was a normal high school student, on his way to becoming a sophomore. He comes from a military family. His father, Jorge Gonzalez, is a retired veteran. Isaiah himself had dreams of enlisting.
“I think to him, it was a joke,” Gonzalez said. “it wasn't him trying to commit suicide. I don't see him doing that."
That joke or challenge goes too far, and teens too often are falling victims to it.
According to many accounts online, ‘The Blue Whale Challenge’ targets teens through Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.
An anonymous instructor asks kids to complete challenges, like listen to certain music.
But many of the challenges quickly become dangerous, urging teens to harm themselves. For instance, like cutting themselves.
The last challenge is fatal.
“He also had to post pictures to show proof that he had done that stuff,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez found all of that proof on his son's phone. Isaiah's final act was documented live on the internet.
“It could happen to any family. We're just urging parents, look at your kid's social media,” Gonzalez said.
A spokesperson with Voices for Children of San Antonio tells us parents should be communicating with their children about their digital and online life, as well as monitoring their social media accounts.
Some things to look out for:
- Are they spending more time online or on devices?
- Look for signs of isolation.
- Look for any loss of interest.
- Watch for changes in behavior or personality.
- Experts also said parents should understand that while their children are very smart, their emotional development doesn't always match up with their intellectual or academic development.
It's important for families to address mental health and get the necessary care when needed.