Disturbing "suicide tips" appear in children's YouTube videos

27 February 2019, 15:21 | Updated: 27 February 2019, 15:36

kids suicide youtube outrage
Picture: EMS-FORSTER-PRODUCTIONS
Benedict Townsend

By Benedict Townsend

TW: This story contains subject matter that some may find disturbing

Parents have become concerned after dark messages were found hidden inside innocent looking YouTube videos for kids.

CBC reports that a children's cartoon video was found to have a suicide-related sequence hidden at around the five minute mark - in other words, deliberately buried so as to be inconspicuous. This clip was discovered by chance by paediatrician Dr. Free N. Hess, who reported it on her blog, Pedimom and to The Washington Post.

This appears to be a separate issue from the so-called 'Momo Challenge' which is also frightening parents at the moment.

This was not the first instance Hess had encountered. Seven months earlier she had posted a complaint from another mother, who had come across the same video sequence on another video aimed specifically at young children.

The clip in question appears to be from a separate video by dark YouTube comedy character Filthy Frank. According to the woman who found the clip: "the man quickly walked in, held his arm out, and tracing his forearm, said, 'Kids, remember, cut this way for attention, and this way for results,' and then quickly walked off."

filthy frank cut arm
A still from the Filthy Frank clip. Picture: Filthy Frank

The matter was made worse by the fact they appeared on YouTube Kids, a special, extra-censored version of YouTube that is meant to be safe for under 13's. Both of the aforementioned videos were eventually removed after they were reported to YouTube.

YouTube stated that:

"We work to ensure the videos in YouTube Kids are family-friendly and take feedback very seriously. We appreciate people drawing problematic content to our attention, and make it possible for anyone to flag a video."We are making constant improvements to our systems and recognise there's more work to do."

YouTube has struggled to moderate children's videos for a while now. There are countless examples of strange, often entirely nonsensical 'kids' videos on the site, which feature well known characters like Elsa or Spiderman doing pointless, repetitive actions. There's even been a lot of debate around whether they are even made by people, or some kind of algorithm.

If you have been affected by any of the issues covered in this article, please visit Mind for advice and information.

Or for immediate help, phone the Samaritans: 116 123