Police have issued a warning over an alleged ‘suicide game’ where children are contacted on social media and urged to harm themselves.
Some reports claim that children have been targeted by people posing as ‘Momo’ – which uses a frightening image from the work of Japanese artist Midori Hayashi – on YouTube.
Hayashi is not involved in the game, and people appear to be stealing her artwork to intimidate and bully children as young as nine.
There is limited evidence of children being contacted such as screenshots and the ‘game’ is widely thought to be a hoax.
But some reports claim otherwise, with one Scottish mother saying children at her daughter’s school claim to have talked to the character online, according to The Sun.
Other reports claim that children have been contacted on WhatsApp and threatened and bullied by people using the ‘Momo’ avatar.
A child in Bolton reportedly threatened classmates after playing the game.
As yet, however, there have been no confirmed deaths or injuries linked to the game, and some reports claim that the risks are overstated.
On Sunday Ireland’s Gardai for Laois/Offaly issued a warning saying: ‘There is a ‘game’ doing the rounds on social media platforms at the minute called ‘momo’ which appears to target children or vulnerable people.
‘The momo challenge is a form of cyberbullying where momo asks to be contacted through a social media site and then asks the person to perform a series of dangerous tasks including self-harm.’
‘Please, please, please always supervise your children or those that are vulnerable while online.
‘As parents, it’s all too easy sometimes to hand over a device to a child for that few minutes peace but there can be devastating consequences if they are left un-supervised.’
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or visit the Samaritans website.