TWO child suicides in Colombia have been linked to a sinister internet game that’s been sweeping South America.
Local media reports a 12-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy took their own lives in the town of Barbosa.
RCN Radio claims the two children were playing a challenge based game — believed to be the ‘Momo’ challenge — on the internet.
It was reported the boy had passed the game onto the girl before his death. Both died within 48 hours of each other.
Last month news of the ‘Momo’ challenge swept the internet after it was linked to the suicide of a young girl in Argentina.
The online game has appeared on social media platforms WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube and led to police in Mexico issuing a warning to parents.
#Parents – new #scareware “Momo Challenge” targets children and teens, sending disturbing images and inciting cyber harassment or self-harm. If contacted by a “Momo” account, do not respond and immediately block the number.— Ontario Prov Police (@OPP_News)
“Young people are accessing it, the game has several challenges, they are accessing them and in the end it leads to suicide to finish the game,” Janier Londoño, government secretary of Barbosa in the Antioquia region told the Caracol news outlet in Colombia.
Momo reportedly begins with an avatar — taken from an edited photo of a sculpture by Japanese artist Midori Hayashi — instructing the victim and sending them violent taunts over messaging apps. Momo then threatens the player if they refuse to follow the game’s orders.
Eventually they are challenged to take their own life.
— Crime Branch, Odisha Police (@CIDOdisha)
It’s believed the game originated in a Facebook group, but the creepy ‘Momo’ avatar image originated from an Instagram photo of the sculpture that has been cropped and enhanced to appear creepier. Midori Hayashi is not associated with the ‘Momo’ game.
Local police have said WhatsApp phone numbers linked to Momo accounts have been registered in Colombia and Mexico.
Despite the innocent origin of the ‘Momo’ character, the game has become far more sinister and continues to spread in South America and parts of Asia.
— PUNE POLICE (@PuneCityPolice)
Outrage over ‘Momo’ has led to Pakistan slapping a ban on it and other ‘suicidal video games’.
“These games don’t have any place in Pakistan which convince youth to commit suicide to get rid of its miseries,” Federal IT Minister Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said.
In India’s Bhubaneswar region police have gone to schools to inform students of the dangers of playing the game.
The ‘Momo’ challenge has been compared to the Blue Whale game which sparked concerns last year. Blue Whale involved encouraging youth to undertake daily tasks which included self-harm and watching horror films. It’s understood the Blue Whale challenge led to about 100 teen deaths in Russia.
If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide, contact Lifeline 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or BeyondBlue 1300 22 4636.
Evil coffee geek. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Hipster-friendly internet evangelist. Communicator.