TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Warning: This story mentions suicide and may be disturbing to some readers.
A mom is warning parents to better monitor their kids’ online activity after finding a disturbing video that appears to give children instructions to harm themselves.
Dr. Free Hess, a pediatrician and mother in Gainesville posted the video on her blog PediMom.com after seeing it on YouTube. Hess said the video has appeared twice on YouTube and YouTube Kids since July.
“Looking at the comments, it had been up for a while, and people had even reported it eight months prior,” Hess told CBS News.
The instructions are in a 9-second clip that’s spliced between clips of the popular Nintendo game Splatoon.
“Remember, kids, sideways for attention, longways for results. End it,” a man says as he pretends to cut his forearm.
The man is identified as YouTuber Filthy Frank, who calls himself “the embodiment of everything a person should not be.” He has over 6.2 million subscribers. CBS News reports that there is no evidence that suggests Frank was involved in creating the doctored video.
Hess notified YouTube of the video. The company said it violates their community guidelines and took it down.
A YouTube representative told the network the company works hard “to ensure YouTube is not used to encourage dangerous behavior.”
“We rely on both user flagging and smart detection technology to flag this content for our reviewers,” the representative said. “Every quarter we remove millions of videos and channels that violate our policies and we remove the majority of these videos before they have any views. We are always working to improve our systems and to remove violative content more quickly, which is why we report our progress in a quarterly report and give users a dashboard showing the status of videos they’ve flagged to us.”
Hess said she has made it her mission to seek out these kinds of dangers after seeing higher rates of child suicide in her emergency room over the past few years. She told the network she has reported seven more disturbing videos on YouTube Kids since seeing the video.
“I had to stop, but I could have kept going,” Hess said. “Once you start looking into it, things get darker and weirder. I don’t understand how it’s not getting caught.”
If you’re thinking about suicide or worried about someone who might be, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to connect with a local crisis center. You can also text the Crisis Text Line by messaging 741741.