What Is the Momo Challenge? Disturbing 'Suicide' Game Has Parents, Police Worried

An online game known as the "Momo Challenge" has reportedly resurfaced in the United Kingdom.

Although the disturbing game has been dismissed in many reports as a hoax due to its unclear origins and no concrete evidence showing it has led to actual cases of self-harm, officials in multiple countries have warned of it promoting suicide, and now parents across the U.K. have reportedly found images of the game on WhatsApp and in online videos, according to CBS News.

The challenge reportedly involves a creepy character named Momo with stringy, black hair atop a bird's body instructing players to engage in escalating dangerous acts, including self-harm. Players must provide photographic evidence of completing tasks to continue the game. If players don't play along, they'll be "cursed."

The game reportedly ends with Momo telling players to take their own life and record it for the world to see.

The Momo character went viral in 2018, and alarm over the rumored game surrounding it increased over the summer, when authorities in Argentina began investigating whether it was tied to the death of a 12-year-old girl in Buenos Aires, The Buenos Aires Times reported.

Despite circumstantial reports, neither the rumored game nor the Momo character meme has ever been proved to have led to any cases of suicide.

Police in multiple countries have warned that hackers may be behind Momo.

"Even basic open source research suggests that 'Momo' is run by hackers who are looking for personal info," police from Northern Ireland said in a Facebook statement, The Independent reported. "Whatever or whoever is behind it, there is no disputing the content being sent is horrendous."

Law enforcement, schools and social media representatives are urging parents to monitor their children's internet and app use, and a YouTube spokesperson told CBS News its "Community Guidelines" prohibit dangerous games such as the Momo challenge and that the company removes such content when it is uncovered.

"Our advice as always, is to supervise the games your kids play and be extremely mindful of the videos they are watching on YouTube," the Police Service of Northern Ireland wrote on Facebook, CBS News reported. "Ensure that the devices they have access to are restricted to age suitable content."

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours every day. If someone you know appears to be contemplating suicide, visit Bethe1To.com for assistance.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said police in Argentina investigated the death of a 12-year-old boy; it was a girl. This article has also been edited to clarify that the "Momo challenge" has never been proved to have led to cases of suicide.