The Ukraine National Police reported the discovery of massive “suicide networks” where the owners encourage children to commit acts of self harm. These networks, as the name indicated, only succeeded once the child committed suicide. The owner or administrator of the group then sold the videos on the darknet, the press release explained. Often the exploitation started as a game.
Cyber Police in Ukraine published a 209-name-list consisting of adult participants. The police made several arrests but the investigation is still ongoing. Many of the registered accounts came from Ukraine and very little few came from outside Ukraine, investigators announced, at this point. The police’s press release was majorly aimed at encouraging parents to keep a closer eye on their children.
Officials asked the following of parents in Ukraine:
According to the announcement, the cyber division of the Ukraine National Police found online communities where adult members found children willing to commit suicide. The administrators or site owners required the children to apply or register before becoming a verified member. This would often include a psychological evaluation and a specific type of task.
The task or quest according to the investigators, often involved photos or videos depicting various forms of self-harm. Each quest and necessary photo or video came with a time limit, otherwise the applicants would be rejected.
Cyber investigators found 50 different types of “quests” that the administrative entities made applicants perform. These quests that often or always involved self-harm and decided who was true candidate for the suicide group. The ultimate goal for users of these sites was not to watch videos of children cutting or harming themselves, but rather the more extreme: watching their suicide.
After performing increasingly painful and harsh forms of self-hate, the children killed themselves. However, unlike many more common examples of a child’s death, the young people recorded how much they hated life and wanted it to end. They then committed the final act—this entire event occurred via a live audio or video stream where the website admins controlled everything. They gave the order and instructed the child on how to finish the job.
The streams, now in a recorded format, found their way throughout the darknet; the group’s administrator sold each video for being amounts of Bitcoin, depending on unknown factors.
A similar investigation is underway in Russia.