People across the world are spreading awareness for World Suicide Prevention Day on Monday. In Colorado, parents are warning each other about a new game called the ‘Momo Challenge’ targeting people with suicidal tendencies.
The dangerous game is similar to the ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ which claimed several lives last year. Both challenges involve people taking commands from unknown numbers and social media accounts for 50 days.
“It’s creating a situation where they are contemplating very dangerous situations for themselves,” said Robyn Hunt, Dean of Students for American Academy – Motsenbacker in Parker.
One of the first clues for parents to be concerned with is the image of a Japanese statue of a woman with bulging eyes and scary features. The artist of the sculpture claims the art has no correlation with the challenge, but people familiar with the game associate the image with the ‘Momo’ character.
Users begin by communicating with ‘Momo’ on Facebook or What’sApp, a free messaging service. They're given a series of tasks to finally meet the ‘Momo.’ Those tasks start off small but then escalate quickly to violent acts with photos for proof.
The ‘Momo’ intimidates and threatens those who don't follow its instructions and the final challenge can be anywhere from harming to killing yourself.
Local schools including American Academy recently sent out emails to parents warning them of the challenges they are most concerned about, ‘Momo’ being one of them.
“It takes all of us to come together to keep all of us on top of the newest thing that is coming out,” said Dean Hunt. “There is something new every day that we have to watch for and make sure everybody understands the repercussions behind most of these challenges and how disturbing they can be towards these students."
Law enforcement agencies have put out warnings about the ‘Momo Challenge’ reportedly being played in the United States and around the world.
The challenge first came to light after being linked to the suicide of a 12-year-old girl in Argentina. She left behind a video on her cell phone of the tasks she took before her death
There haven't been any reported deaths from the ‘Momo Challenge’ in the U.S. so far.
Technology experts said this is an opportunity for parents to remind their kids not to accept any invitation to play from an unknown number and not to click on unidentified links. Experts also encourage parents and teens to change email and social media passwords frequently and block unknown numbers inviting you to play right away.
Why should parents care?
- If your student is participating in this challenge they are in danger.
- Students who partake in the Momo Challenge are actively communicating with strangers who intend to encourage self-harm.
- The Momo Challenge is not specific to one country, it is global.
- The Momo Challenge can feel real for students and may push them to harm themselves.
- Students are exposed to violent and graphic images throughout the challenge.
- Some students have reported that it’s easy to come across “Momo” on Facebook and YouTube and that it’s easy to connect with the character on WhatsApp.
What can parents do?
- Teach your children to never communicate with strangers on social media and to never share personal information online.
- Remind your children that they can always talk to you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable on social media.
- Learn about viral social media challenges before your children so that you can help keep them safe.
- Encourage your children to only use social media as a tool to improve their digital footprint and have fun with friends (in a safe way).
Toll-free support lines to call:
- Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433
- Crisis Call Center: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Lifeline Crisis Chat: CrisisChat.org