Blue Whale Suicide Game, Mar 10, 2017, Courtesy to Scare Theater/Youtube,
CAIRO – 5 April 2018: The horrifyingly dangerous game “Blue Whale” has claimed the life of former Egyptian MP Hamdy al-Fakharany’s son, who is believed to have been manipulated into committing suicide, his sister, Yasmeen al-Fakharany, stated on her Facebook account.
Known as the Blue Whale Challenge, the game requires players to go through 50 dangerous and soul-destroying tasks over the course of 50 days. The tasks begin with self-harm, leading up to the final challenge, which is suicide by hanging or jumping off a high building.
After her brother was found dead in his room on Monday, Fakharany said that she found several notes with scribbled handwriting and unknown symbols referring to the infamous Blue Whale game.
She added that her brother was a religious boy and did not have any intention to committee suicide. “He challenged the game, but it won in the end,” she continued.
Fakharany said that she found several notes with scribbled handwriting and unknown symbols referring to the infamous Blue Whale game – Courtesy to Yasmeen al-Fakharany Facebook account
Fakharany said that she found out the scribbles in her brother’s room were notes about the 50 challenges, adding that the last instruction was to keep the game a complete secrecy and delete it before going forward with the suicide.
The entry point to the game has been the social networking site VKontakte, a Russian-based online social media and networking service that is available in several languages. Someone creates small groups specifically to organize players for the game.
Within the groups, the group administrator assigns daily tasks to members and gives them strict instructions on how to play the game. One of those instructions is that participants can't discuss the game outside of the game itself. The horrific tasks include self-harm, watching horror movies and waking up at unusual hours, but these gradually become more extreme.
After Fakharany’s death, people started wondering, is Blue Whale encouraging kids to commit suicide, or are kids who are having suicidal thoughts seeking out content like the game?
Gamal Farwez, professor of psychology at the American University in Cairo, told Egypt Today that it’s not the game that leads teenagers to commit suicide, but rather those who tend to play these kinds of games already have psychological problems, which the game administrators take advantage of.
He blamed the parents, explaining that they should speak to their teenagers and observe their behaviors, warning about the signs of depression. He also asked parents to be more vigilant in monitoring their children’s online activity.
He stated that if children tend to isolate themselves and are nervous most of the time, then parents should take them to specialists.
As for the government's role in blocking these deadly games, Ahmed Zidan, secretary of Parliament's Information and Communications Technology Committee, told Egypt Today that he will propose a draft law to Parliament that permits a state body – the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology or the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) – to censor these games before being launched in the Egyptian market.
He added that the draft law will include an article stating that there should be censorship on the advertisements broadcasting this kind of destructive game.
Egypt is not the first Arab country to witness a suicide attempt because of the Blue Whale game. Many Arab countries have been on edge due to the number of Arab teenagers getting involved in the game. In Algeria, at least four teens have killed themselves while playing the game, and experts warn the effect could be far-reaching.
In Tunisia, a 12-year-old boy committed suicide on Feb. 11. Since then, more than ten cases of suicide among children and teenagers were reported, the latest on Feb. 26.
In central Tunisia, two girls were transferred to a hospital after attempting suicide. The mother of one of the girls told Tunisian media that her daughter tried to kill herself after completing 25 of the game’s 50 instructions. The Tunisian authorities are raising awareness on the online self-harm game.
Since starting in Russia, the horrifyingly dangerous game has been linked to at least 130 teen deaths across Russia.
The 22-year-old Russian creator of the Blue Whale game, Philipp Budeikin, was sentenced to three years in jail in August 2017 for inciting Russian youths to kill themselves.
He confessed that he convinced about 16 young girls to end their lives, saying that he thinks that his victims were just “biological waste”, and he told the police that they were “happy to die” and that he was “cleansing society”, according to Russian newspapers.
“Mariam”, a Saudi-produced online horror game, can also be compared to the Blue Whale Challenge because of its dark overtones and personal instructions.
While Mariam has not been linked to suicides or self-harm, critics said it prompts children to disclose private information that could be used against them.