Over the past two days, news stories of the “Momo Challenge” have been rapidly spreading through the media. This has led to much misinformation, unclear understanding and concerned parents, professionals and teachers as well as frightened children. On Wednesday, February 27th, reports of this “challenge” were seen in many media news stories and by forwarded posts on Facebook, Instagram and other social media. By Thursday February 28th 2019, students in schools were talking about it and scared by the image attached to this story.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth 10-24 and the numbers are rising. You may have recently heard of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”. If you have or haven’t, please read this article linked below.
I have worked very hard to work towards suicide prevention in a responsible way following the common sense guidelines by experts and expert organizations. 13 Reasons Why almost follows the exact opposite of all of those recommendations.
I’ve talked with many kids that have been watching it. I’ve started asking what the overall message they got from it was. One of the kids said “All people who commit suicide were bullied.” This is a concerning message received. In my opinion it was very irresponsible for Netflix to not do it’s homework and develop this show. Even more concerning is that they chose to release it in the peak of suicide season. The spring, for an unknown reason, is the time of the year where there are the highest suicide rates.
Releasing this on March 31st was not well thought out. If your child is watching this please see the Resource Guide below for talking points about the show that will help you help them understand that suicide is not a guaranteed result of bullying and that others should not be blamed for suicide as depicted in the show.
I’ve started to watch this myself and am not finished with it yet, but as a mental health professional for over 20 years, it very much concerns me and disappoints me with the message that those not in the mental health field are leaving with our youth.
Here is our Resource Guide for issues surrounding this issue:
Founder, Shape the Sky
WASHINGTON (Observer-Reporter Newsroom) – “’I downloaded the app because I thought it was a place to work on photos, but when I started looking around I realized it had blogs and places where people socialized,’ Klingensmith said. ‘When I began reading, I came across postings by some young people, they were sharing things that they should have been talking to their parents about, it seemed to me, or asking for professional help. It troubled me and I deleted the app but couldn’t help thinking about it.’”
ALTOONA (WTAJ News) – “Licensed counselor, Ryan Klingensmith runs workshops and counseling sessions for parents and children. Ryan wants parents to understand the ins and outs of social media so they can recognize potential issues or habits that can arise in children.”
PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) – “Ryan Klingensmith, a public speaker, will speak at an internet safety seminar May 31 to make parents aware of social media misuse and take action in keeping children safe online. At the seminar, Klingensmith will speak of app reviews, cell phone use, social media use/misuse, setting expectations and discussing ways to talk to young people about wise uses of their devices.”
ALTOONA (Altoona Mirror) – “Ryan Klingensmith, founder of Shape The Sky — a network of concerned parents, educators and clinicians — spoke at the Altoona Area Junior High School Auditorium. One grandfather in the crowd of about 50 admitted: ‘I’m so far out of the loop, I don’t even know what I learned.’”
NORTH HILLS (Trib Total Media) – “Ryan Klingensmith says the tricky thing about parenting in the digital age is that there is no way today’s parents and caregivers can base their approach to guiding children through social media on how they were raised.”
WESTMORELAND (Trib Total Media) – “‘Teenagers may have more apps on their smartphones than parents can name, but parents must learn enough about social media to teach them how to use it safely,’ a social media expert said on Thursday.”