Eyes bulge out of their sockets, a distorted smile stretches out over a gaunt, pale face and underneath black hair is a grotesque mixture of human and animal parts.

It's a terrifying image and it's being used as the face of a sick game that has been linked to the suicide of a 12-year-old girl.

The horrifying character is known as Momo and is a part of a disturbing viral challenge where kids are dared to message the character on WhatsApp.

Momo then replies with violent images and threatens the player if they refuse to follow their orders.

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However, the creepy image of the woman wasn't designed with evil intention and has unwittingly been used in the sick online game.

The picture is actually of a sculpture created by Japanese special effects company, Link Factory.

The real title of the artwork is Mother Bird and was on display at Tokyo's horror art Vanilla Gallery.

The artwork is called Mother Bird and was created by a Japanese special effects company. Photo / Instagram
The artwork is called Mother Bird and was created by a Japanese special effects company. Photo / Instagram

But as pictures were shared around social media the story of its origin quickly became distorted and it was soon associated with the Momo game.

The sculpture was initially thought to be created by Japanese artist Midori Hayashi who is known for making bizarre dolls using different animal parts.

Neither Hayashi or Link Factory are associated with the Momo challenge.

So while it is still disturbing to look at, the original artwork was never meant to be a part of the sinister game it is being used for now.

The viral game gained major attention after a 12-year-old girl was found dead in her backyard near Buenos Aires, Argentina, after allegedly having an online conversation with Momo.

After examining the girl's phone, police are now questioning an 18-year-old the girl allegedly met on social media, local media reports.

"The phone has been hacked to find footage and WhatsApp chats, and now the alleged adolescent with whom she exchanged those messages is being sought," police said in a statement.

They believe the teenager's intention was to "upload the video to social media as part of a challenge, crediting the Momo game" for the suicide.

Other people have claimed their interactions with Momo included being sent violent images during the night and the unknown person threatening to appear while they are sleeping and curse them.

There were claims that some players even received terrifying phone calls where all they could hear were screams and other creepy noises.

Authorities have released warnings discouraging people from adding the creepy figure on any social media platform.

It's not the first "game" of its kind to target vulnerable teenagers and threaten them.

The Blue Whale game, and the legend of the Slenderman, have had similarly tragic outcomes.

Slenderman started out as a photoshop challenge to see who could make the most paranormal image and quickly gained worldwide recognition.

Later it would be named as the cause of a gruesome attempted murder where two 12-year-old girls lured their classmate into the woods and stabbed her 19 times.

The girls later claimed they did it in the name of Slenderman.

The Blue Whale was a similarly sickening online game that challenged impressionable youngsters to complete set tasks for 50 days.

On the final day the players were told to kill themselves, resulting in at least 130 deaths across Russia.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat.
NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666.