Monday, 30th October 2017

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Momo alert after death

Police on Saturday issued an advisory after the online killer game, Momo Challenge, allegedly forced a youth from Rourkela to commit suicide in Chennai on August 22.

  • Published 2.09.18

Who and what is Momo?

Months after the killer Blue Whale game allegedly claimed many lives in the country, another online game, called the Momo Challenge, has taken Internet users by storm. While the challenge allegedly throws a series of tasks at the players chosen, the final task is to ask the player to take their lives. The first death related to the game had allegedly taken place in Argentina in August where a 12-year-old girl recorded the tasks on her phone before committing suicide. Worried over the killer game, police of various states have issued advisories

The challenge: In Momo Challenge, an unknown mobile number with the display picture of a doll’s distorted face with protruding eyes and wide mouth appears with a WhatsApp invitation. The perpetrators of this crime monitor the status and profiles of people on social media to target people with suicidal tendencies. The scary features of the doll is used to catch the attention of teenagers, especially children. The link to the game is available mainly through WhatsApp

The tasks: The challenge involves various tasks that need to be completed before meeting Momo in the final stage. Similar to Blue Whale, the players are asked to watch horror films, wake up at unusual hours and finally record the video of their suicide. If any player denies following the instructions, Momo threatens them with dire consequences

Signs and symptoms: Withdrawal from friends and family, persistent low mood and unhappiness, sudden bursts of anger directed at themselves or others, loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy and visible marks such as deep cuts or wounds on any part of the body

Protective measures: Unknown link coming to WhatsApp number should be immediately deleted. Unknown number invitations through WhatsApp has to be avoided and blocked

Role of parents: Parents should be alert if they find their children to be unusually secretive, mostly related to their online activity and sudden increase in the time spent on social media. They should also keep an eye on the devices used by children for new phone numbers and email contacts

Bhubaneswar/Rourkela: Police on Saturday issued an advisory after the online killer game, Momo Challenge, allegedly forced a youth from Rourkela to commit suicide in Chennai on August 22.

The deceased, identified as S. Chetan Kumar, a third-year computer science student at a private engineering college in Bhubaneswar, allegedly killed himself in Chennai by jumping from the sixth floor of a hospital.

Though no such incident related to the online game has taken place in the state so far, the police have advised the parents to keep tabs on the behaviour of the their children. The cops have also advised them to go through the text messages, call logs, Internet search history and communication through various social networking sites to ensure that the children do not get addicted to the killer game.

The police advisory has also asked the teachers to keep a watch on the students getting involved in violent acts, which can be related with the killer game.

Chetan, the son of S. Srinivas Rao working with Indian Railways in Rourkela, left his hostel on August 20 and reached Chennai the next day. The deceased's maternal uncle, B. Harinath Rao, blamed the hostel authorities for not informing about his absence from the hostel.

"His father received the information from Chennai police after they searched his mobile phone, which was connected to a laptop. It was found that he was in the last stage of Momo Challenge. I request teenagers to refrain way from such games and think about their family and friends before taking up the game," said the uncle of the deceased in tears.

His family members said that had they received information about his absence, they could have tried to trace him. "He was very friendly and there was no problem with his studies. He was doing well. We could not believe that he could take such a drastic step. It was a shock for the entire family," said Srinivas Rao, the brother of the deceased.

Additional director-general of police (crime branch) Santosh Kumar Upadhyay said the district and commissionerate police had been asked to convene meeting with principal and heads of educational institutes to appraise them of the risk involved with the killer game. " The police will take immediate steps in identifying the links and applications containing the game and will take action in removal of the links," he said.

Compiled by Lelin Mallick