An 11-year-old Italian boy died by suicide this week and police are concerned his death is linked to a macabre new “game” sweeping social media called the “Jonathan Galindo challenge” — a possible revival of 2017’s blue whale challenge, reports said Friday.
The boy jumped off his Naples balcony around 1 a.m. on Tuesday after penning a disturbing message on his tablet that read: “I love you mom and dad. Now I have to follow the man in the black hood. I have no more time. Forgive me,” news.com.au and Italian news wire ANSA reported.
The child was reportedly happy, healthy, well-adjusted and played sports, ANSA said.
Cops are now probing whether “the man in the black hood” is a reference to an online character called Jonathan Galindo who asks children to do a set of horror-themed tasks that culminates in a demand they kill themselves, the outlets reported.
The character, described as a cross between a human and a dog — with a round black nose, a creepy, toothy grin and long dark ears — was actually created by special effects producer Samuel Canini back in 2012, news.com.au reported.
The artist claims to have no ties to the horror challenge and said the character was created for his “own weird amusement, not for some modern-day thrillseeker looking to scare and bully people,” an account ostensibly belonging to Canini wrote on Twitter in July.
Galindo, who is not a real person, targets kids online and asks them to complete a set of ever-increasing dares, starting with banal requests like “watch a scary film” to more violent tasks like self-harm and suicide, the outlet reported.
It is disturbingly similar to the blue whale challenge, believed to have originated in Russia in 2016, before spreading to other countries including the US. As a part of the “challenge,” kids were asked to complete 50 tasks over 50 days with the final request being a demand for their suicide.
In 2017, a Texas family claimed their son’s suicide was related to the blue whale challenge after their 15-year-old was found hanging in his closet with his phone propped up on a shoe, broadcasting the death.
At least 130 suicides around the globe were linked to the blue whale challenge, news.com.au reported.
Another similar challenge emerged in 2018 called the Momo challenge, which came from accounts depicting an image of a creepy young woman with stringy black hair, matchstick legs and eyes bulging from their sockets.
The Momo challenge included violent images sent to children, threats of being cursed if the kid didn’t adhere to Momo’s orders and eventually, a demand they kill themselves.
*story by The New York Post