Sinister 'Momo' challenge encourages kids to commit suicide

Feared to have caused death of 12-year-old girl

Civil Guard of Spain, Twitter
Civil Guard of Spain, Twitter

A terrifying new challenge is targeting teens and encouraging them to commit suicide. It's called the 'Momo Challenge' and it's sweeping the mobile app,WhatsApp, in several countries.

The viral challenge is more simple than parents might expect. Just add a contact via WhatsApp, and follow instructions. The avatar for the contact profile is an unsettling character, taken from the instagram account of an unaffiliated artist. Once kids engage with it, the character sends chat messages and violent photos. If the teens don't follow the instructions, the account threatens them with a release of personal information or exposure. 

Several agencies across the world are searching for the administrator of the account. The game is being linked to the 'Blue Whale' game, which is blamed for several deaths in Russia, as well as the "Slenderman" legend, which led to a high profile murder case here in the U.S.. In Argentina, police are investigating whether 'Momo' had anything to do with a death of a 12-year-old girl. According to a local newspaper, she filmed all of her activities before killing herself. Authorities say someone may have encouraged her to do it. 

Last month, Mexican officials released a warning about the disturbing challenge, reminding kids about the dangers of talking to strangers. Authorities in Spain tweeted warnings about 'Momo.'

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress, or suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741-741.