The parents of a teenage son who committed suicide just over a year ago claim that their son become addicted to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft. They believe that as a result of this addiction he took his own life. Now these parents are suing World of WarCraft developers Blizzard Entertainment, blaming the game developers for the tragic loss of their son. The details of just how many hours this teen had been playing World of Warcraft prior to his death has not yet been published. Just what would constitute an addiction is hard to quantify. The generally accepted medical definition of an addiction is; a habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice beyond one’s voluntary control. So using this definition as a guide we could assume he had no control over how often he sat down to play the online role playing game. Looking at a common addiction many people can relate to, smoking. Nobody would claim that the actual act of smoking could lead to anybody’s death. Rather it is the chemicals being inhaled while smoking that have been linked to various diseases leading to a potential premature death. Following this same logic we could then say that spending large amounts of your day playing World of Warcraft could not kill you. So the real problem in this case most be something else.
Examining suicide we should look at what really causes someone to take their own life. While a lot more research on the subject is still needed, it is believed that some type of psychiatric disorder, depression being the most common is the leading cause of suicide. If properly diagnosed most mental health problems can be treated and controlled. The difficulty is for people to realize that they have a problem and to go and seek treatment. The unfortunate stigma still attached to mental health problems leads many to go without getting treatment for what could be a highly treatable disease. Looking back at the case at hand, we can see that a teen playing World of Warcraft too much could definitely be a potential sign that something is wrong. People who have difficulty dealing with reality or interacting with people are two possible signs of a mental health disease. So every parent should be aware of this, and if their children are using computer games as a way to withdraw from friends and family they should definitely seek profession medical advice, it just might save their child’s life.