Son of Former Egyptian MP Suicide ‘Linked to Online Suicide Game’

Son of Former Egyptian MP Suicide ‘Linked to Online Suicide Game’

The son of former MP Hamdy El-Fakharany, 18-year-old Khaled El-Fakharany, was found to have hung himself in his home in Gharbeya governorate on 2 April, having been coaxed into committing the act by a deadly online game. The disturbing incident has been the subject of intense debate in the Egyptian media over the last few days – especially considering the extremely low suicide rate in the country.

‘The Blue Whale’ – also known as ‘A Silent House’, ‘A Sea of Whales,’ and ‘Wake me up at 4:20 am’ – is an internet game, devised in Russia in 2013 by Philipp Budeikin.

Targeting vulnerable teenagers, it requests users to sign up on an internet platform and contact an assigned administrator. The ‘game’ provides the player with a daily task to complete for 50 days, beginning with simple tasks like waking up at a certain time. They gradually get more severe, enticing users to self-harm, and at the end of the period, on the final level, the administrator tells the player to kill themselves.

Budekin, who was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison in 2017, told the police that he considered his victims “biological waste” and that they were “happy to die”; he was, he stated, “cleansing society”.

Having at first denied that he committed any crime, Budekin later admitted that he had actively enticed teenagers to kill themselves, describing in detail in an interview in St. Petersburg how he hand-selected the most vulnerable individuals – exposed through their online communication – and tailored their gaming experience to drive them to suicide.

The game’s title is believed either to be a reference to a song by Russian rock band, Lumen, or to a type of blue whale that seems to commit suicide by purposely beaching itself.

Although the game was exposed by Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta as being linked to 130 teenage suicides between November 2015 and April 2016, and deaths associated with it have occurred across the world, from Brazil to India, there has somewhat bizarrely been no official confirmation linking the suicides to the game.

According to Ahram OnlineKhaled’s sister, Abeer El-Fakharany, maintains that, “[The game] was the primary reason behind my brother’s suicide.”

“After searching through my brother’s stuff following the incident,” she said, “I found some incomprehensible writings, a blue whale sign, as well as very strange songs and statements about death written down as if they were memorised. I would have posted some of this stuff on the internet, but I am not sure if this would have a negative impact on those who see it.”

Speaking to Ahram OnlineGamal Fayrouz, a psychiatrist from the Egyptian Medical Academy, stressed that teenagers are at a vulnerable age and are more likely to act out of emotion and to engage in risk-taking behaviour. He also posited that “those who go for the game are abnormal teens who suffer from psychological or social problems. They are introverts with low self-esteem who seek validation from the outside world.”

Yet, it is important to realise that it can be difficult to spot a loved one in crisis, and their participation in the game can come as a shock, as happened with El-Fakharany. “From what I have found, the victims of this game have all been bright and good kids,” she stated. “My brother was a very devout and religiously dedicated guy, I am really in shock,” she emphasised the importance of monitoring children and teens’ phone usage.

Users of the game appear to be instructed to delete all evidence of their engagement from their devices, and as it is played via other social media platforms, it has proved elusive to track and shut down. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, however, offer help to users who enter search terms associated with the game, letting them know that there ways of getting support for themselves or a friend, such as contacting provided hotlines.

In addition to services such as these, Break the Silence Egypt is a fast-growing online group dedicated to raising awareness about mental illnesses in Egypt. It invites individuals who are struggling to share their stories and artwork, provides wellness tips, and is preparing to organise events. Although Egypt still has some way to go in terms of increasing the capacity of its mental health services, there are good options for support available – especially online.

Al-Azhar University Warns of Turkish, Indian Soap Operas
Egyptian Archaeological Mission Discovers a Graeco-Roman Temple Near Siwa

Subscribe to our newsletter


More in News

Egyptian Jews Celebrate Hanukkah Holiday With the Public

Egyptian StreetsDecember 7, 2018

Chanel Turns to Egypt for Inspiration of Modern Design

Egyptian StreetsDecember 6, 2018

Egypt Receives a Loan from the World Bank to Help Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

Nour EltiganiDecember 5, 2018

Lawyers Drop Charges Against Rania Youssef’s Dress

Egyptian StreetsDecember 4, 2018

Egyptian HandBall Coach to Train Australia’s Women’s National Handball Team

Nour EltiganiDecember 4, 2018

First International Defence and Security Exhibition Kicks Off in Egypt

Egyptian StreetsDecember 3, 2018

Egypt Approves Legalisation of 168 New Churches

Egyptian StreetsDecember 2, 2018

Egyptian Actress Rania Youssef to Face Trial for Wearing Revealing Dress

Egyptian StreetsDecember 1, 2018
Egyptian Streets is an independent, young, and grass roots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets, and to establish an engaging social platform for readers to discover and discuss the various issues that impact the region.

© 2017 Egyptian Streets. All Rights Reserved.