OREM (ABC4 News) – A Utah youth suicide prevention expert is speaking out after the discovery of a disturbing video on the YouTube Kids app that instructs children how to slit their wrists.
The clip, since taken down by YouTube, appeared to be a regular children’s cartoon until the 4:44 mark when it cut to a man in sunglasses.
“Remember kids: sideways for attention, longways for results,” the man says. “End it.”
Dr. Greg Hudnall, founder of the youth suicide prevention group Hope 4 Utah, calls the video the modern equivalent of putting razor blades in Halloween candy.
“It just breaks our heart that you know, we would expose this to young children,” Dr. Hudnall told ABC4 News. “You have young people who may be hurting. You have young people that may be struggling with a mental illness and other challenges so when they see that sometimes they think that may become an option.”
Dr. Hudnall’s peer-support Hope Teams are now in 520 different schools. On Tuesday he told Utah Valley University students that suicide is the leading killer of 10 to 17-year-olds in Utah.
“The youngest suicide I’ve worked with? 4th Grade,” he said. “Think about that. 4th Grade. The youngest we have on record that’s ever attempted: Kindergarten.”
Florida pediatrician Dr. Free Hess has posted other animated videos she found on YouTube Kids that appear to romanticize suicide.
“Subtle messages that they’re putting in there are glorifying and sensationalizing and taking away from the seriousness that it really is,” Dr. Hudnall said. “One of the things that we have to remember is that people don’t want to die. They want the pain to go away and they don’t know how to make that pain go away so when they see things like this it gives them ideas.”
Google, the parent company of YouTube says they have employees monitoring videos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and if you see anything inappropriate you can report it on their Help Center page.
If you or somebody you know has suicidal thoughts you can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, use the Safe UT smartphone app or visit https://utahsuicideprevention.org/ .