“I feel empty, lost, angry, but I have hope,” Natasha Ann Lesprance said, close to tears that never came. It has been just over three weeks since her 11-year-old son Emanuel Coby Rodrigues was found hanging in his closet just days after he wrote the National Grade Six Assessment examination.
Lesprance does not believe her son wanted to end his life but that he was influenced by animated programmes he watched on the internet. She also believes that he was a victim of the so-called “Momo Challenge”. It has been claimed that YouTube videos featuring kid-friendly characters like Peppa Pig or Splatoon gameplays are being edited with images of Momo, as well as instructions for children to self-harm. Such videos appear to be made by trolls with the express intention of trying to disturb children.
I have done many gut-wrenching interviews for this column but speaking to Lesprance was one of most difficult. Maybe it is because I have a son the same age or maybe it is just seeing a mother still dazed by the loss of her son and who is eons away from ever being ‘normal’ again…..