A coroner is investigating violent video game Call of Duty after up to FOUR Manchester teenagers who regularly played it went on to kill themselves.
Coroner John Pollard said it ‘concerned him greatly’ that the 18-rated game, which includes gruesome scenes of soldiers killing each other, had featured in several inquests he had presided over.
In the latest hearing, brilliant schoolboy Willam Menzies, aged just 16, who was ‘always’ playing the computer game inexplicably suffocated himself to death in his bedroom by tying a plastic bag around his head.
William was studying A levels in biology, physics, politics and psychology at one of Britain’s top grammar schools and was a straight-A student who appeared to have no troubles.
But at the time of his death at his Victorian townhouse in Hale, Greater Manchester his hands were found to have been tied behind his back.
In February 2012, Callum Green, 14, hanged himself after playing Call of Duty with his stepfather. The game has also been linked to the deaths of two other unnamed teenagers
At William’s inquest, his family wept as Mr Pollard recorded a suicide verdict and said: “I have to say, and this is after three or four inquests into the deaths of teens, the Call of Duty game seems to be figuring in recent activity before death. It concerns me greatly.
“It has figured in a number of deaths which I’m investigating. I suspect, but I don’t know because I don’t have enough evidence, that William may have been experimenting with something but we haven’t got evidence.
“There is no doubt it was asphyxia by plastic bag. But why on earth was that there and why did he put it there? There was no note or indication he was feeling down or distressed.”
Earlier, the inquest in Stockport was told William, a talented artist, lived with his parents John, 56, and Anne, 52, and older brother Alexander, 19, and attended Altrincham Grammar School where he attained 12 GCSEs at Grade A.
Mr Menzies told the hearing: “Nothing about him caused concern. He was very taken with his studies and he enjoyed playing his Xbox. The game he always played was Call of Duty.
“He was rather self-contained – he didn’t like going out a great deal. He didn’t drink or smoke, he was the opposite to that.
“He had exams coming up but that wouldn’t cause him any worry as he was a straight-A student. He never threatened self-harm to my knowledge.
“We had been playing badminton together in the last few months and we were speaking about that and normal things.”
The tragedy occurred on February 17 during the half-term holidays after Mr Menzies gave his son the science fiction novel Never Let Me Go to read.
He added: “I had read it myself and thought he would enjoy reading it. I went to work on the computer in a different room and I called in on him and said, ‘read the book, you’ll enjoy it’.
“I saw him again when he said he was on page 48 but he wasn’t really enjoying the book so I said ‘stick with it’. I went out for a ride on my bike and came home at about 1pm and William and Anne were in the kitchen making lunch.
“During the afternoon, I was working but probably came down a couple of times for a cup of tea and on one occasion I heard William laughing in his bedroom.
“About 2.30pm, my wife went out and returned about 4.30pm and shouted hello and she then came upstairs and I was still in the office and her first port of call was William’s room and she shouted and I dashed down.
“Anne and Alexander were trying to resuscitate him so I rang an ambulance which arrived in ten minutes and they worked on him for 45 minutes before taking him away to hospital. He was pronounced dead at hospital.
“I would say William is a person who made his own mind up and carried things out so given the apparatus and method used I would say that there is clear suggestion he intended it.
“He was happy that day and the last thing I heard him do was laugh so I could only guess as to why he might have done it but there is no doubt that he intended to take his life.”
Alexander said: “We got on OK. I remember him saying he had admiration for a philosopher who had decided to kill himself and had slit his wrists and bled out.
“He never said he was going to harm himself. I went to his room when mum called me and was helping her to resuscitate him.
“During that day, at lunchtime the two of us were making lunch together. He seemed cheery and in a good mood.”
Det Insp David Moores of Greater Manchester Police said there was nothing to indicate why William had killed himself.
He said: “His was a normal boy’s bedroom with books and models and it was tidy. He didn’t have a mobile phone – but I was told later that evening that two journals had been found.
“The journals had juvenile comments in but nothing significant. I was able to satisfy no suspicious circumstances despite the fact his hands were tied.
“The computers were tested to see his internet history and there was nothing of any interest and nothing to suggest he had been researching any sites.”
After the hearing, William’s family were too upset to comment. In 2012, Mr Pollard presided over the inquest of Callum who was found hanging by his school tie from his bunk after being grounded by his mother following a row.
At the time, Mr Pollard recorded an open verdict saying Callum may have wanted to shock his mother. He also issued a warning to parents to ensure children do not have access to adult-only video games.
In 2012, Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik claimed he had ‘trained himself’ to kill his 77 victims by playing Call of Duty.
French terrorist Mohammed Merah also played Call Of Duty before killing three soldiers and four civilians – including a rabbi and three children – in Toulouse in the same year.
The violence in Call of Duty has also been criticised by the British Muslim Forum and Church of England ministers.
Story via Cavendish Press.
Image courtesy of FPS (First Person Gaming) with thanks