Viral kids' game resulting in suicides and suicide attempts among young Kentucky teens

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Bulging eyes, a creepy wide smile, stringy black hair around a deformed face to match her body.

Her name is "Momo," and she is the character of a viral internet game targeting young kids. The game consists of a player contacting "Momo" at 3 a.m. For 50 days, "Momo" gives the player tasks. The challenges start off easy but quickly escalate.

In Argentina, a 12-year-old was found hanging from a tree in her family's backyard, the Buenos Aires Times reported. Investigators found the 12-year-old had been playing the Momo Challenge.

"I'm confident that there have been at least attempts in this state (Kentucky). Whether they've been confirmed, that's something we need to look into," Emergency Room Physician Dr. Ryan Stanton told WKYT Investigates.

An open records request with the Fayette County Coroner's Office asking for deaths of people under the age of 20 broken down by cause showed four suicides by hanging and one unconfirmed death since January. Several sources in central Kentucky confirm to WKYT that a recent teen suicide resulted from the "Momo challenge".

"Once I started to find out about it, I sent out a simple inquiry online with emergency doctors around the country, and immediately, there were returns of 'Oh, yes. This is an issue. This is something we're seeing, something we've heard about.'" Dr. Stanton said.

Kimberly Clark's 10-year-old daughter is fortunate to be alive. WKYT interviewed the Ohio mother through FaceTime. Just a few weeks ago, her daughter's father happened to walk down the stairs at just the right time to stop his daughter from suffocating herself.

"She said she had the pillow over her face and she couldn't breathe. So she was actually in the process, and she heard him coming down the stairs and stopped," Clark explained.

Clark's 10-year-old daughter was admitted to the hospital for six days. She has to be homeschooled now and isn't sleeping at night. Clark studied the game after she found out her daughter had been playing it, saying the game would ask players if they are ready to hurt themselves.

"If you click 'no' it says that they'll kill you themselves," Clark said. "I'm just grateful that I was able to know that this was going on before she was successful the second time."

Medical experts say some of these concepts are not what some at young ages can grasp.

"We're exposing our children to adult-type issues in a population that don't have the maturity to deal with it," Stanton said.

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