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Law enforcement officials are warning against a new viral challenge that may be behind at least one child’s apparent suicide, according to reports.
A 12-year-old girl took her own life in her family’s backyard in Ingeniero Maschwitz, an Argentinian town less than 30 miles from Buenos Aires, the Buenos Aires Times reported.
Investigators are probing whether the girl was motivated to kill herself by the so-called Momo Game, a WhatsApp-based challenge that apparently originated in Japan.
"I believe this needs to be brought to [people’s] awareness so we can talk about it and get other people knowing exactly what they need to look out for,” Shane Andrews, a vlogger from Georgia who has played the game, told InsideEdition.com.
The Georgia-based YouTube creator, whose channel Repzilla “exposes the truth, and uncovers the internet's greatest mysteries,” said those who want to partake in the game communicate with unknown people through the app.
“Momo” will call and message the user, eventually harassing them and demanding they harm themselves, or end their lives.
Andrews said he tried playing the game.
“I was met with some very violent images and text messages that I cannot show,” Andrews said. “The messages were scary. They said that they knew personal things about me which they couldn’t possibly know.”
The communication escalates into challenges, which involve harming oneself, he said.
“They want you to do small tasks, like wake up at odd hours, overcome a fear,” Andrews said. “Then it escalates quickly … [to challenges] like jumping off a house and ending your life. You’re supposed to document these things [on] video."
The 12-year-old girl found dead in Argentina reportedly filmed herself on her phone prior to her death. Investigators suspect someone may have encouraged her to take her own life, the Buenos Aires Times reported.
Police are looking to speak with a person believed to be 18 years old who the girl may have met through social media, according to local newspaper Diario Popular.
“The scariest thing about this is the ease of access,” said Andrews, who noted he will be publishing a video about the challenge on his channel on Wednesday. “Children can easily download the app, can easily be on Facebook. All they have to [do is] hear about it and say, ‘I am going to do that,’ and say, ‘That’s not a big deal’ and then be sucked in by the psychological push and pull of the method.”
WhatsApp said in a statement to InsideEdition.com: "WhatsApp cares deeply about the safety of our users. It's easy to block any phone number and we encourage users to report problematic messages to us so we can take action."