New “Suicide Game” Sparks Global Fear. Here’s My Research.
Friday, national and local news outlets ran a story about a new "suicide game" that has surfaced on the web. According to the reports, "Momo" is a game played out on WhatsApp that leads to suicide, and it's coming for your teenagers.
What is "Momo?" The frightening image is actually of a sculpture made by Japanese special effects group, Link Factory. The image dates back to 2016, and has since been made into a meme on sites like Reddit and 4chan.
The outrage and fear comes from a recent story about a 12 year old girl from Argentina. According to reports, there were messages on her phone from "Momo" shortly before her suicide.
This is the only death attributed to a "Momo" game. YouTube is bursting with videos of people trying to reach "Momo" using one of the several numbers attributed to the "game." Many of them get no response, despite titles of the videos warning you of impending doom if you "call this number."
Should you reach "Momo", you allegedly receive creepy or gory photos. Nothing is mentioned about challenges, as in the case of Blue Whale. Just scary photos and crude messages.
I personally tried reaching out to "Momo", contacting numbers in South America, Japan, and Mexico with no response.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: There is little chance that this is going to be a follow up to the infamous Blue Whale game that claimed the lives of several in Russia (the total number of deaths attributed to the game is still debated). That doesn't mean there aren't sick individuals capable of using this as a means for hurting others.
Still, there is little to no evidence of a challenge-style suicide game making a global impact on teens. Research shows that the "game" originated from urban myths being shared on Spanish speaking forums, and it is largely being played out in South American countries.
So for now, just pay attention to your kids and maybe have a conversation with them about challenges played out on the internet.