It quickly takes a dark turn, as children receive messages from a creepy ‘mother bird’ character with bulging eyes and sinister grin telling them to self-harm. Picture: YouTube.com

London - A girl of five hacked off her hair after being "brainwashed" by an online "suicide game" which encourages children to hurt themselves, it emerged on Wednesday.

The "Momo challenge", which tells youngsters to undertake dangerous tasks and self-harm, is being spliced into clips on video sharing site YouTube.

The game, which is reportedly popping up in episodes of Peppa Pig and clips of games such as Fortnite, initially appears light-hearted, with video clips encouraging children to contact "Momo".

But it quickly takes a dark turn, as children receive messages from a creepy ‘mother bird’ character with bulging eyes and sinister grin telling them to self-harm.

Refusal to comply results in abusive messages and disturbing photos. The final challenge is for the child to commit suicide.

After being instructed by "Momo" to chop off parts of her hair, the girl was taken to Toddler Trims Salon in Gloucestershire in order to salvage what was left.

A hairdresser at the salon posted a photo of the youngster online, writing: "So I’ve just had a beautiful little girl in affected by this sick Momo challenge! I couldn’t help but feel this monster has brainwashed her."

It comes as headteachers have issued warnings about Momo on their websites after receiving calls from horrified parents.

It is not known who is behind Momo, which has been linked to the death of a girl from Argentina, a boy in France and another boy in Belgium. The original avatar was created by a Japanese special effects company which has nothing to do with the game.

YouTube said it had not received any complaints about Momo, adding: "Content of this kind would be in violation of our policies and removed immediately."

Daily Mail