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Saudi Arabia bans 47 video games after child deaths linked to 'online suicide challenge'

Mental health and anti-bullying activists around the world have spoken out against 'Blue Whale' [LightRocket]

Date of publication: 17 July, 2018

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Authorities in Saudi Arabia have banned a number of popular video games following the deaths of two children linked to a social media suicide challenge.

Saudi Arabia has moved to ban 47 video games that authorities claim led to two children committing suicide after being instructed to do so by the online game.

Among the titles that were proscribed by the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media on Monday are Grand Theft Auto V, Assassins Creed 2 and God of War 1-3.

The ban follows the suicides of a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl who were reportedly encouranged to take their own lives while playing the 'Blue Whale' social media game.

Also known as the 'Blue Whale Challenge', the game allegedly instructs challengers to participate in a series of strange and disturbing challenges. These can include live streaming self-harm and staying up late to watch horror movies.

As players progress through the game, challenges allegedly grow increasingly extreme, until they are reportedly instructed to kill themselves as part of the 50th and final challenge.

The game gained notoriety in recent years after being linked with claims that 130 teenagers in Russia have killed themselves while participating in the game.

Deaths allegedly related to the game have also been reported in the United States, India, the United Kingdom and the UAE.

Some have called the story surrounding the Blue Whale Challenge a hoax.

The challenge's creator, 22-year-old Philipp Budeikin from Russia, was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison last year for inciting suicide.

Budeikin confessed to his crimes and said that he was "cleansing society" of the game's victims, who he described as "biological waste".

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