Is Call of Duty to Blame?Violent video games have been the centre of controversy for many years for their connection to behavioural changes among users, in particular children and youth. But is there now a connection between them and teen suicide? One coroner in Manchester seems to think so, as has linked the video game Call of Duty with a series of suicides he has investigated.

Most recently, William Menzies, 16, was found asphyxiated in his bedroom in Hale, Greater Manchester after playing the game, Call of Duty, which he played “all the time”.

Call of Duty is a modern warfare video game where users engage in on screen violent activities including killing.

There have been multiple other teen suicides that are being questioned with their relationship to the game, as the teens have been found dead after playing the game.

A 2011 US study of 30,000 teenagers reported that those who spent more than five or more hours a day playing video games were slightly more likely to have thought about suicide. The coroner is concerned that the Call of Duty game seems to be figuring in recent activity before death.

But can Call of Duty truly be singled out and blamed? Is there real evidence showing causation between playing the game and an increase rate or risk of suicide among teen gamers?

Corner John Pollard is quoted stating

 “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.

But while John Pollard is looking into a connection between the game and teen suicide, not everyone agrees.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that any video games have been associated with suicide,” says Dr Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University who has spent 25 years studying gambling and gaming addiction. “If you look at the research, there are so many different risk factors – psychiatric disorders, various psychological states, cultural, family and social situations, even genetics. There are so many things that tend to contribute to suicide that blaming one particular game is almost impossible.”

So while it appears that while evidence as of yet can not directly prove if the Game is to blame for these suicides, it is important to point out that there may be a correlation. It is important to understand that there are many causes to teen suicide, and monitoring your child’s activities and behaviour associated with their activities is incredibly important. In fact a new study in Singapore suggests that Children who play violent video games may experience an increase in aggressive thoughts, which in turn, could boost their aggressive behaviour. The aggressive behaviour has been linked to aggressive thoughts, caused by playing games with aggressive activities.

Learn more about teen suicide and suicidal thoughts

So what can parents do to ensure safe usage of video games?

Video Gaming Safety Measures

  1. Keeping games in a common area such as a living room so gaming and behaviour can be monitored
  2. Set up parental controls on games
  3. Limit violent game usage if you believe they are causing behavioural changes in your child.
  4. Understand the game – as parents, play it yourself so you get a better understanding of the emotional and behavioural connection between the game. How do the games make you feel after?
  5. Keep an open conversation about gaming with your child. Violent video games is not considered to be a positive place of escape for youth. There are many other activities such as sports and music that offer a more positive influence on behaviour.

As a parent it is up to you to decide what is best for you and your family, and the ultimate decision as to whether or not violent video games are okay in your home, and for your child is your choice. What works for one family, and one child may not work for another. It is best to knowledge yourself on the games your children play, and monitor their behaviour with their usage. Do your research – understand the effects of games, and allow yourself permission to limit usage of certain games if you have reason to believe they may be affecting your child negatively.



“Do Violent Video Games Boost Aggression? Study Adds Fire to Debate.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 28 May 2014.

“Don’t Blame Call of Duty for Teenage Suicide.” The Conversation. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014.

“Coroner to Investigate Violent Videogame Call of Duty after Teenage Suicides.”Daily Express UK RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014.