Though the twisted ‘Blue Whale’ online phenomenon has been circulating social media sites since 2016, its presence in Egypt happened just recently and almost overnight; claiming a number of lives via suicide, the latest of which being former Egyptian MP Hamdy al-Fakharany’s 18-year-old son, Khalid Al-Fakharany; having been found dead by his father along with evidence pointing to the game. In response, Egypt’s governmental religious authority, Dar Al-Ifta, has declared the game wholly forbidden in Islam, owing to its disturbingly violent, scarring and ultimately lethal nature.

“If someone wants to participate they have to draw a whale on their hand with a knife or a sharp object, take a photo and send it to the game’s organizers. So the player begins with a series of challenges including watching horror movies and violent experiences to the point where the game asks them to commit suicide.” Said a representative in an official video statement pertaining to the phenomenon, going on further to explain how the game instructs players on how to take their own lives; hanging, self-mutilation and jumping from mortal heights among other methods. What’s even sicker is how its alternative to suicide is to murder a family member; failure to do so will prompt the player’s “administrator” to divulge sensitive information obtained throughout the 50 “challenges” of the game.

Perturbed by the sudden and tragic phenomenon, MP Shaerif al-Wardany has called for the game to be banned by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, but such a task isn’t practically achievable; seeing as ‘Blue Whale’ is a series of challenges shared on social media sites, and not an actual video game or controllable form of media.

For those of you struggling with recurrent thoughts of suicide or self-harm, never be afraid to reach out to somebody for help or call Egypt’s Mental Care hotline on 08008880700.

Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images.