MomZette

Here’s an Urgent Warning to Parents About Dangerous New ‘Momo’ Suicide Game

A 12-year-old took her own life — now it's linked to a horrifying online presence that entices kids into harmful behaviors

Parents, be on the alert: A new WhatsApp “suicide” game called Momo is sending shock waves around the internet, and the kids will no doubt hear about it if they haven’t already.

“Momo” could be the next “Blue Whale” — a vile game popular in 2016 that had youngsters undertaking horrific daily tasks including self-harming, watching horror films, and waking up at unusual hours.

The “tasks,” issued by manipulative social media users, escalated until the 50th day, when youngsters were told in this new game to kill themselves. The game has been linked to 130 deaths in Russia.

This new danger, Momo, also targets young people, as multiple outlets around the world are reporting.

Police in Mexico say “Momo” started in a Facebook group, where people are encouraged to communicate with an unknown telephone number, Fox News reported.

Computer crime investigators from the Mexican state of Tabasco warn that the game is a “new challenge” aimed at children and young people.

“Avoid talking with strangers,” it tweeted recently.

The “game” begins with a shadowy controller sending violent images to the victim over the messaging app. The game reportedly threatens the player if he or she refuses to follow the game’s “orders.”

The avatar for Momo is a grotesque image of a woman taken from the work of Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, who is not associated with the game (shown below, so that parents know exactly what to look for).

“This is very worrying, because I have one child who is drawn to challenges like this, and she is also my most secretive,” one mom of a pre-teen on the North shore of Massachusetts told LifeZette.

“We have to be especially diligent with her phone apps — we have a rule that she has regularly to hand her phone over so I can go through it,” she continued. “Kids jump from app to app, kids have always loved spooky things, ghost stories, so it’s worth the time invested in tracking their online activity when you hear about things like this horrific ‘Momo.'”

Law enforcement in Argentina is currently investigating whether the suicide of a 12-year-old girl in the town of Ingeniero Maschwitz, near Buenos Aires, is linked to Momo, multiple outlets have reported.

The girl filmed her activities prior to hanging herself from a tree in her family’s backyard, according to the Buenos Aires Times.

She filmed a video on her phone shortly before she died, that publication reported.

Officers suspect someone encouraged her to commit suicide. A police statement said, “The phone has been hacked to find footage and WhatsApp chats, and now the alleged adolescent with whom she exchanged those messages is being sought.”

They added they believe the teenager’s “intention was to upload the video to social media as part of a challenge crediting the Momo game” for the suicide.

“The risk of this challenge among young people and minors is that criminals can use it to steal personal information, incite suicide or violence, harass, extort and generate physical and psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression and insomnia,” the computer crime unit of Tabasco, Mexico, said.

Related: Teens and Social Media: Time to Dial It Down

“Children can find it difficult to stand up to peer pressure, but they must know it’s perfectly okay to refuse to take part in crazes that make them feel unsafe or scared,” the U.K.’s NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) said of the Momo threat, as the U.K.’s Mirror reported.

“Parents should talk with their children and emphasize that they can make their own choices and discuss ways of how to say no.”

The NSPCC added, “Reassuring a child that they can still be accepted even if they don’t go along with the crowd will help stop them doing something that could hurt them or make them uncomfortable.”

meet the author

Deirdre Reilly is a senior editor for LifeZette.