By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 15 April 2017:
There is growing incredulity across Libya at what is being seen as an unusual wave of suicides in the country, particularly in Beida. On social media and among some officials, it is even being suggested that the suicides are the result of demonic forces linked to game called “Charlie Charlie”.
The allegation started after it was revealed that six people, mostly teenagers, had committed suicide in the town in the past three weeks and that another four had attempted to kill themselves.
Such has been the panic that there have been reports that the Beida-based interim government’s interior ministry has banned the game, calling it Satanic and a threat to national security.
The reports, however, have not been confirmed and appear to be part of the same frenzy that has suggested that a game is behind the suicides.
Rumours of similar suicides in Derna, which have caused panic in local schools, have meanwhile had to be denied by the local authorities there.
In a bid to inject some sanity into the issue, the head of the information at the interim government’s health ministry, while confirming the number of suicides, said that the only thing in common in all cases was that they had hanged themselves and that there was no evidence to back the rumours. Moataz Trabelsi also said that forensic reports showed that those who died had not taken any drugs. A full investigation had been launched into the suicides, he added.
As in other Arab countries, suicide is normally a taboo subject in Libya and cases are rarely reported. As a result statistics are hard to come by.
Effectively confirming this, Trabelsi has said the families of both those who killed themselves and those who attempted suicide had refused to cooperate with investigations and did do not want to talk about what had happened.
Now with the frenzy, however, suicides are making news. In addition to the latest in Beida, that of a 20-year-old male, another man was reported to have hanged himself in Tripoli’s Bab Ben Ghashir district yesterday.
As for the Charlie Charlie game, there have been claims elsewhere in the world of suicides as a result of youngsters playing it, although these turned out to be a hoax. Nonetheless, over the past year, it has been denounced by a number of Christian fundamentalists as Satanic and the cause of demonic possession.