Published: 2018-04-05 12:39
Last Updated: 2018-04-05 14:27
The suicide of 18 year old Khaled El-Fakharany, son of imprisoned former Egyptian MP, Hamdi El-Fakharany, has been attributed to the “Blue Whale Challenge”. The boy was found hanged in his room earlier this week and according to his older sibling, his personal notes indicate that he had been a victim of the “game”.
In a Facebook post, his sister Yasmine stated Khaled had committed suicide because of the devilish game and asserted he was a religious boy. “We read about it from the people who survived it and they were describing exactly what Khaled had done”. She speculated that participants were required to keep it in complete secret and delete all digital traces before the final challenge.
She cautioned parents from leaving electronics with their children during the night and warned that even if the name of the game was changed, youth would still be vulnerable. She hoped to raise awareness and that families would pay close attention to the behaviour of their children.
It is noteworthy that the the “game” is not a game or app but rather a form of cyberbullying that reaches to the level of incitement to suicide. Individuals, usually vulnerable teens are targeted and groomed until the game escalates in ways that make it difficult for victims to withdraw, effectively blackmailing them into suicide.
The person responsible for inventing the cyberbullying challenge, Russian Philipp Budeikin, was sentenced to 3 years in jail in 2017 for inciting at least 16 teenage girls to commit suicide. He expressed no remorse during his trial and described the process of targeting vulnerable teens as a method of “cleansing society”.
Since then, the crime has been taken on by many “administrators” who have employed the tactic to target teens. The game spans 50 days and aims to progressively alienate the victims from society by assigning challenges that have to be videotaped for proof.
The “tasks” range from “players” telling their friends they hate them and watching scary videos; later escalating to self-mutilation and ending with suicide. Victims who try to withdraw are usually threatened that their private information would be released and are often blackmailed into committing suicide.
The sick game carries the name of Blue Whale as a reference to the animal, which is one of few species that intentionally strands on shores to die.The phenomenon, commonly known as “beaching”, has puzzled scientists and even though contributing factors have been identified, the “suicide” is largely unexplained.
Many children across the globe have been proved susceptible to Budeikin or other “administrators” who have targeted them. The suicide of seven Algerian children has been linked to the game and another in Morocco.
Jordan was not exempt from the plague and in the end of last year students in Karak were caught self-harming but police intervention prevented them from completing the game.
The Cybercrime unit in Jordan recently visited schools and warned that anyone could become a victim of cybercrime and online bullying. They cautioned students from participating in illegal activities by reminding them that Jordanian law criminalizes cybercrime regardless of the age or sex of the perpetrator.
Students were encouraged to seek help from authorities if they were victimized and follow the unit’s Facebook page