Police and educators around the world are worried teens may take part in a disturbing suicide game on social media that encourages them to harm themselves and eventually commit suicide.
The disturbing suicide “game” called the “Momo Challenge” is reportedly spreading through WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube, officials warn.
The leader of the “Momo” Challenge is an “avatar,” a scary-looking woman with dark, scraggly hair, bulging eyes and a giant, creepy smile and the character is known to hack into users’ cell phones. The avatar is the work of Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, who is not associated with the game in any way.
Momo Challenge players are sent disturbing and graphic photos, and are made to perform acts of self-harm, including suicide, or face consequences of having their private information shared online, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
Some are calling it an internet hoax, while others claim the challenge has been linked to teen deaths in other countries.
There are currently no confirmed deaths associated with the challenge in the U.S. — and authorities want to keep it that way.
Austin Lucas with the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation says whether or not it’s a hoax, the resurfacing of warnings about the challenge is a chance for parents to create a safe space and bring up suicide with children.
Authorities say the challenge is similar to another social media based suicide game called “Blue Whale,” that is linked to hundreds of teen deaths in Russia.
Click here for more information about the “Momo Challenge” and the Blue Whale.”