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Local parents warn against ‘Momo’ character threatening kids online

(KBTX)
Published: Feb. 27, 2019 at 4:11 PM CST
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Warning: This story mentions suicide and could be disturbing to some.

A viral challenge has resurfaced this week and it encourages kids to take their own lives. School districts across Texas are issuing warnings about the "Momo Challenge," but Bryan and College Station Independent School Districts both say they haven’t needed to take those steps.

One local parent shared a video with KBTX of her asking her children about the character, Momo, who tells kids to kill themselves.

"I'm scared of Momo,” the upset child said.

Kids say they see the Momo character while watching videos on apps like YouTube.

"I said, 'I'm going to show you a picture, and I need to know if you recognize it or if you've ever seen it before'," said Sonia Jenson. She showed her eight-year-old son, Max, a photo of Momo on Monday night.

"And sure enough, he said, 'That's Momo,'" Jenson said.

One parent even recorded her child talking about the character.

"She tells me to kill myself,” the child continued. “She tells me to grab a knife out of the kitchen and stab myself in the eye and I don't want to."

Kids say if they don't do what Momo tells them to, the character threatens to harm their family.

"Kids are so impressionable. As much as you can tell them right from wrong, 'do this,' 'don't do that,' my fear is him following along with the crowd," Jenson said.

Jenson said she's limiting Max's internet usage from now on. She wants other parents to be on the lookout for threats coming after children.

"You had to worry about the bully on the playground, you didn't have to worry about the bully coming into your home and not physically being there,” Jenson continued. “It was just a matter of 'stay away from this kid if he's being mean to you.' Well, how do you do that these days whenever they're coming into your home through wireless communication?"

Experts recommend keeping an eye on your kids' behavior to see if they're growing depressed or suicidal. Some key signs could be feeling hopeless, irritable, not eating, or self-harm.

 Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself 
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much 
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

What to Do

  • Do not leave the person alone
  • Remove and firearms, alcohol, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Take the person to an emergency room, or seek help from a medical or mental health professional 

Who Can Help

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    • A free, 24/7 confidential service that can provide people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, ot those around them, with support, information, and local resources.
  • The Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1
    • The Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line connect veterans and service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.
  • Crisis Text Line: 741-741
    • The free text-message service provides 24/7 supprt to those in crisis. Text 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor right away.

 

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