Everyone Agrees They Don't Know Why Teenager Committed Suicide, So Helpful Coroner Shouts Video Games

from the you're-not-helping dept

They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. When it comes to adults attempting to explain away inexplicable tragedy by scapegoating the younger generation’s entertainment du jour, that certainly seems to be the case. For our generation, of course, that means video games. We’ve seen it over and over again, from journalists jumping to blame violent games before they have any facts to back it up, to television personalities pretending there’s a proven link when there isn’t, to grandstanding politicians proposing constitution-violating sin-taxes on games just because.

But if you want to really get the head-scratching going, you should read the account of a tragic teen suicide in the UK. Peppered throughout the article is helpful information, such as:

Speaking at the inquest, William’s father John said there was no prior warning that his son, who achieved 12 As in his GCSEs, would take his own life. ”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 to self-harm to my knowledge.”


DI David Moores of Greater Manchester police also said there was no indication why William had taken his own life. He added: “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 that evening that two journals had been found. The journals had juvenile comments in but nothing significant. 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.”

In other words, according to the boy’s father and the person speaking for the police investigation into the suicide, nobody has any idea why the boy took his own life. None. It’s going into the books as an inexplicable tragedy that has everyone confused, searching for a reason why something like this might have happened. That’s when the coroner shows up and injects some stupid into this sadness-turkey.

Speaking at the inquest of the death of 16-year-old William Menzies, coroner for south Manchester John Pollard, expressed his concern over the war game after it became a factor in “three of four” inquests into the deaths of teenagers. Returning a verdict of suicide into William’s death, Pollard 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.

The link, Pollard explains, is that these kids played Call of Duty and also killed themselves. Therefore, according to Pollard, there is reason to believe one is causal. According to a source of mine, a Mr. Lo Gic, this kind of thinking indicates the coroner may have some wires crossed in his head. Otherwise, he’d have to explain why four suicides of children that played a game that has sold over a 100 million copies is anything we should be noting at all. Those children may all have drank orange juice, as well, because that’s what kids do. Conjuring up some link to fill the vacuum of tragedy isn’t just wrong, it’s cruel. It may delay the process by which the parents come to terms with what happened and how there may well have been nothing they could have done to stop it. What this coroner is instead suggesting is that the game played a role and the parents not restricting the playing of the game also played a role.

Considering there’s no evidence of that, you know, at all, that’s a real kick to the teeth of these grieving parents. So thanks a lot, coroner. You’re not just wrong, but you’re a jerk, too.

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Comments on “Everyone Agrees They Don't Know Why Teenager Committed Suicide, So Helpful Coroner Shouts Video Games”

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Ninja (profile) says:

In fact this is yet another thing to add to the confusion. If you are healthy you tend to do what you like. I’ve experienced depression from my loved ones and the first thing they do is stop caring about themselves or doing anything that used to give them pleasure or entertain them. For me, the time when I stop playing games and laughing my ass off of bloody corpses flying after I use my piranhado (Diablo 3 reference) please take me to professional help because I’ll be in deep psychiatric trouble.

Sure, some may be more comfortable with practicing religions that preach segregation and morals that deny basic human needs but I’m ok with my fictional piranha tornadoes with bloody corpses flying around.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Risk factors

no prior warning that his son, who achieved 12 As in his GCSEs, would take his own life. ”He was rather self-contained, he didn’t like going out a great deal.

The kid scored very well and was an introvert. Those aren’t exactly red flags by themselves, but they are not exactly strangers with suicidal ideation. The kid sounds really smart (which is statistically a risk factor by itself). If a smart person really wants to kill himself (as opposed to trying to cry for help), then there will likely be very few signs that it’s imminent.

jebradley (profile) says:

One of the things that I learned on my Psychiatry rotation in medical school applies to this. Irrational people do irrational things, and you’re only going to beat your head against a wall trying determine a rational reason for an irrational act. Put your mind to doing something useful, and you’re going to save yourself a lot of headache.

Anonymous Coward says:

would someone like to explain to me how people who are supposed to have a great deal of brains but have so little in the way of common sense? what is going to be next in the blame game? someone set himself on fire because he had seen a pig being spit-roasted at a bar-b-q?bloody fool ought to be fired!!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s actually a pretty easy question to answer: the more specialized a person is, the more of an idiot they are when they’re outside their specialty. Cross this with the fact that specialists tend to be pretty smart, and smart people tend to overestimate their competence in all things, and you have a recipe for clueless statements.

Qarma Steel says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, from your Wiki page is this:
“Unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude”

So, I think John Fenderson is correct. The coroner’s specialty is not psychiatry, therefore he is likely unskilled in that field. But his confidence in his own medical field may have easily caused him to overestimate his competence in psychiatry. We see this all the time in global warming arguments from people whose fields are only loosely connected.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I don’t know, but such a study would not help to confirm or deny a causal link between the two.

My guess is that a study like that would show, for example, a correlation between exposure to violent media of all sorts and violent action. However, is that exposure making the people violent or are violent people more attracted to that sort of media? That kind of study doesn’t help answer that question.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In this case, I suspect it’s simply being a luddite as far as a subject outside of his speciality goes. If he literally knows nothing about video games, it might strike him as unusual and noteworthy that te same title keeps popping up. Of course, he mouths off to the media before fact checking why (CoD games tend to outgross Hollywood blockbusters and have teenager boys as a core demographic), making him look like a fool, but that’s just his pop culture ignorance showing.

I’m a little more concerned about the other things that are waved off here. Just because he got good grades doesn’t mean that he wasn’t nervous about future results. Introverts can also lack self belief and self confidence, and teenagers can be terrible at looking at things from the outside. He may have felt both inadequate and under enormous pressure, especially if it wasn’t mere intelligence that got him the good previous grades (e.g. was he bullied by parents into ensuring he always got an A?). He apparently had no social life, and no escape valve for pressure through drink or drugs. While usually seen as positive, this kid seems to have spend his life in the same room either studying or gaming. Not healthy for mental stability. They wave off his browsing history as being clean therefore nothing to worry about – but this might simply mean he was good about using private browsing modes for his searches on darker subject matter.

As usual, there’s a lot to think about here and a lot of lessons to be learned, but yet again it’ll be ignored because someone needs an easy scapegoat. Very sad.

cbpelto (profile) says:


I have an alternate suggestion as to the rise of suicides. Not only those of teenagers but of combat veterans as well.

In the first place, the vaunted American public education system doesn’t teach the young that Life is ‘tough’. That there are hard knocks along the way and they need to learn to roll with the punches.

Additionally, there is a great lack of God, as in the love of Christ, in their lives. A safety net for dealing with troubles. The sure knowledge that despite their thoughts that nobody loves them, there is One who does. And He’s a very powerful lover of their lives and spirit.

In all the proverbial ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’, I’ve found that if I give my troubles to Him, I find a peace of mind and heart that sees me through. And that is especially needed in the trials I am facing today?charged with menacing a police officer when I thought I was experiencing a home invasion in the dark of night. I had been SWAT’d.

No Christ. No Peace. Know Christ. Know Peace.

Within Reason says:

Re: Why?

@ cbpelto I think it’s great that you want to offer solutions but I don’t think that religious instruction will do it. Some parts of the country are pretty close to becoming theocracies and I don’t see things getting better there. The First Amendment to the Constitution is there for a reason.

If it is taken up, which doctrines will be taught as the prescribed, state-approved curriculum? This is why Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; you’d be obliged to take part in it whether it was doctrinally compatible with your own beliefs or not.

I’m sorry to see that you’ve been SWAT’d. I’m glad you’re finding solace in your faith. However, I’m sure you’d prefer to have the authorities accept your contention that you thought you were experiencing a home invasion than be able to accept your fate with equanimity.

American public education system doesn’t teach the young that Life is ‘tough’. That there are hard knocks along the way and they need to learn to roll with the punches.

Isn’t that a parent’s job? The other great lesson to learn is to take personal responsibility, which means that you, not the state, raise your kids. Once they understand responsibility, they’ll be ready for the hard knocks and rolling with the punches. Without it, they’d be merely… what we have now. Many American kids, facing hunger and privation in the current economic climate, understand better than we know that life is tough, believe me.

cbpelto (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why?

RE: Religious Solutions Not Applicable?

All I can offer is personal experience, as I stated above. People I associate with marvel at my calm in the face of felony charges by police who claim?falsely?that I threatened them. I face up to 9 years in prison and $300K in fines if convicted.

I pray for these police officers every night and for the DA?whom I’ve worked with on civic projects?and his rep in this case, that this cup will pass from me. But whatever happens?.

?.God IS ‘in control’.

And therein lies the ultimate comfort. No matter what happens this side of the proverbial ‘pale’, I have confidence in my hope as to where I’ll be on the other side of it.

And AGAIN, the lack of such confidence in those poor souls who decide that death by suicide is better than Life in the present is tragic.

RE: Theocracies? In the US?

Hardly. How familiar are you with REAL theocracies, e.g., Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc., etc., etc.? You know. Places where women are stoned to death by the public or murdered by their male family members and homosexuals are hung.

THOSE are theocracies.

RE: A Good Education

It SHOULD come from both parents AND the public education system.

Some time back, I sat on a local citizens government oversight commission.

In one of the meetings, the two reps from the local institutions of higher education?one community college and one state university campus?both complained that 38% of the students coming to them from the local K-12 districts were incapable of reading at the level necessary for higher learning.

I had the temerity to ask them “Why?”

The silence was defining.

All eyes of the commission turned to the reps from the two K-12 school districts.

They blamed the parents?.

The whole public and higher education systems in this country is defunct, except for here and there, e.g., charter schools and home schoolers. [NOTE: Home schooled students are continually taking national championships in various fields, e.g., spelling and geography competitions.]

RE: Kids Learning the Hard Way

I’ll believe kids are learning the hard knocks of life when they are ‘impoverished’ and don’t have a cell phone. People who own cell phones and have cable television in their home are not ‘impoverished’. Kids in America live like kings compared to those in sub-Sahara Africa who don’t have such conveniences while suffering from malaria, sleeping sickness and numerous other maladies.


[God is alive?.and Airborne-Ranger qualified. — Chaplain, US Army Airborne Chapel, Benning School for Boys, a.k.a., the US Army Infantry School]

P.S. So am I?..

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Why?

“the vaunted American public education system”

Even ignoring the religious crap (no, you don’t have to believe in your preferred work of fiction to have a good life or do good), apparently the American education system didn’t tell you that not every story takes place in America. Perhaps if you weren’t so intent on evangelising your cult, you’d notice that this was a story about the UK, and there are very real, non-fictional reasons for the issues at hand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Why?


Suicides are on the up-tick in both the UK AND the US. I’m sure the schools in the UK are just as lousy are they are in the US?.all political correctness and little about how tough Life is.

Maybe you should pay more attention to what’s going on in a wider sphere than your own little neck of the woods.

RE: Cr@p?

Another angry atheist heard from.


[Angry atheists are by definition ‘clinical paranoids’, afraid of an entity they claim doesn’t exist.]

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why?

“Suicides are on the up-tick in both the UK AND the US.”


“Maybe you should pay more attention to what’s going on in a wider sphere than your own little neck of the woods.”

I do, which is why I look closely at international events, and try not to mix up the facts with fantasy. If only others would do the same more often.

“afraid of an entity they claim doesn’t exist”

You have a strange definition of fear. I’m just annoyed at morons who try to remove the rights of others under the name of a stone age fiction – and then turn around and pretend they’re “moral” because of the same fictions. I’m not afraid of anyone, except perhaps when one of you people decide to start killing doctors or plant bombs or whatever else the fictional characters you worship tell you to. Otherwise, if you leave me alone I don’t give a crap which fantasy you use to justify your behaviour.

But, you can’t even decide which of the Christian sects is the “right” one, let alone consider the viewpoints of Hindus and Buddhists. So, how can you comprehend people who live without any supernatural superstitions at all? It must be confusing when you meet someone who can lead a full life without cowering in fear of retribution in another life, but that’s your problem, not mine.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why?

You can’t prove a negative. It’s really incumbent on people making positive claims to provide the proof of their claims.

Rhetorically, when there is no evidence for something being factual, it’s not that big of a stretch to call it fictional. It isn’t correct logic, but it is in the general ballpark.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why?

Well, my first though is simply to point to Genesis, which contains 2 conflicting versions of the story of creation which cannot possibly be simultaneously true. But, I suppose you’re argue “god can make it true” or some such bollocks.

Then, I can look at the book itself. It was written by many different authors in many different languages over the space of centuries, many of them generations after the subjects had died, then edited by a council long after it was written, and then much later translated into a language that’s difficult to convey the original meanings contained within the original text.

I suppose I can’t prove that a being that I severely doubt exists didn’t have a hand in all that, but there’s absolutely nothing about the origins or the text that leads me to believe it’s anything but fiction. A nice fiction, containing some great parables and lessons (as well as some horrific atrocities), but fiction nonetheless.

Unless one of you religious people wants to provide some actual evidence of its truth rather than “the bible says it’s true, so it is”, or some similar logical fallacy…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why?

RE: Citations

I’ll give you one on the military suicides.


For the Teenagers:

Try remembering Klebold & Harris (Columbine), Lanza (Sandy Hook), Hawkins (Westroads Mall), and many many others. Not to forget the most recent at UCSB, Elliot Rogers.

Some of them in their early 20s, but considering the way schools ‘teach’ these days, they’re just overgrown teenagers.

RE: Angry Atheists & Fear

Ignorance begets fear. Fear begets anger. Anger begets violence.

As He put it?.

Perfect love casts out fear.

Learn to REALLY love people and you won’t be so angry at the mention of Christ.

RE: Christian ‘Sects’

There is only one. As it is written, “Is Christ divided?”

The answer is ‘NO!’

Hope that helps. But I suspect not.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why?

“I’ll give you one on the military suicides.”

Where the hell did military suicides come from. I asked for a citation on your claim of UK suicides being up.

try reading instead of trying to push religion into discussions that don’t warrant it. Not one of your claims has been even remotely accurate thus far.

“Hope that helps. But I suspect not.”

No, you gave some information that was nothing to do with what I asked for then went on some delusional rant about some crap I don’t believe in. If you want to help, try addressing what’s actually being talked about.

“Learn to REALLY love people and you won’t be so angry at the mention of Christ.”

I’m not angry about anything, except self-centred sanctimonious wankers who claim that I don’t love my friends, family and other human beings because I don’t believe in the worship of a fictional character. I’m angry because you think that believing your fiction would have stopped the suicide being discussed – even though your sect is responsible for many suicides directly over the years (yes, gay teens who kill themselves are often bullied into it by people like you)

Other Christian, no, mention your zombie god any time you want. You want to push that shit on to me and pretend I’m not a good human being because I don’t buy into your cult? Go to hell. Or whatever else exists that will bring you karma for your lies.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why?

Oh, and to address your non sequitur – from the very article you linked to:

“Rates of mental health issues like anxiety, personality disorders, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among soldiers correlate to the suicide increase”

So, mental disorders, many of them caused by experiences in active conflict, are the most likely cause of suicides during a time of one of longest periods of active deployment for many troops.

What does that have to do with your christ fella, other than the fact that he was powerless to stop human conflict and suffering?

Learn to read, then start addressing reality rather than your religious fiction.

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