An 11-year-old boy died after he took his own life in his school in Quezon City, an act his mother believes was influenced by an online challenge.
Chlyv Jasper “CJ” Santos was buried on Tuesday after being checked in a hospital, GMA News’ Balitambayan reported. He was in the intensive care unit when his mother Paula Bautista heard him say, ‘I will follow my master and I will kill them.’
Paula learned that CJ had a classmate who would hurt himself in school. She then found messages between CJ and the alleged classmate that were about suicide games. The mother also discovered that her son’s online search history contained dark challenges like the “Momo Challenge.”
The Momo Challenge is a form of cyberbullying in social media and messaging apps. A character named “Momo” — a doll with long black hair and bulging eyes — threatens users and tells them to perform dangerous tasks through messages.
The challenge first spread in Spanish-speaking countries but became popular among users who speak English after YouTuber ReignBot made a video about it in July last year.
The public became even more alarmed when the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) posted a warning against it on Facebook earlier this week.
The Momo Challenge is just the latest online challenge that is allegedly harmful, especially for children. There’s also the Blue Whale challenge, which allegedly targeted teenagers to perform 50 tasks over 5o days.
Paula believes it is online challenges like these that influenced her son to take his own life.
Following reports of the deadly challenge’s international virality, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reminded parents yesterday to monitor their children’s internet use.
“To parents, we probably need to monitor our children when it comes to these things. Perhaps what we need is to really guide children, especially when we are not with them and are in school,” PNP chief Police General Oscar Albayalde told reporters in Filipino in Camp Crame, according to ABS-CBN News.
He extended this warning to teachers who he said should help children avoid suicidal thoughts as well. Albayalde also said that he has assigned the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group to investigate the issue and to take down or block websites that contain such content.
But the Momo Challenge can be dangerous in other ways too.
Authorities from the PSNI in Craigavon, Northern Ireland said that the challenge is likely also used to harvest information from users.
If you or anyone you know has mental issues or is struggling with personal problems, please call the 24/7 HOPELINE at (02) 804 4673, (0917) 558 4673, or 2919 to seek professional help.