Pune: In a shocking incident, a 20-year-old man allegedly hanged himself in Pune in Maharashtra while trying to complete a task in a Blue Whale-like online game.

The student has been identified as commerce student Diwakar Mali of Lonikhand area of the city.

“Before hanging himself on Wednesday evening, he left a note which said ‘the black panther, which was in the cage, is free now and he is no longer in any kind of restrictions. The End’,” a police official said.

The official added that the message possibly alluded to his task in the online game, with Mali referring to himself as “black panther”. The handwritten note, in Marathi and English, has a drawing of a black panther along with a line reading “sun will shine again”, he added.

“According to family members and neighbours, Mali was addicted to a Blue Whale-like online game. It is suspected he ended his life while completing some kind of task,” said the Lonikand police station official.

Mali’s mother confirmed his mobile phone addiction, saying, “I appeal to all parents to put restrictions on their children’s phone usage. I lost my son but parents should pay attention to their children”.

The Blue Whale Challenge is a suicide game in which the player is given certain tasks on a daily basis for 50 days and the final task leads to suicide. The participant is also asked to share photos after finishing each challenge.

The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases has termed ‘gaming disorder’ as a pattern of gaming behaviour (digital-gaming or video-gaming) characterised by impaired control and increasing priority given to gaming over other activities.

(With agency inputs)