Police move to get online game banned after teen’s suicide

Updated June 28, 2020

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CCPO Hameed stated in the letter that it had prompted the Lahore police to start efforts to ban the game to save lives of millions of other children who were addicted to this online game. — AP/File
CCPO Hameed stated in the letter that it had prompted the Lahore police to start efforts to ban the game to save lives of millions of other children who were addicted to this online game. — AP/File

LAHORE: Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Zulfiqar Hameed has recommended a ban on an online game to save lives, time and future of millions of teenagers.

In a unique initiative, the CCPO took up the matter with the higher authorities through a letter referring to the death by suicide of a teenage boy, who was an ardent player of the game.

He wrote to Inspector General of Punjab Police (IGP) Shoaib Dastagir seeking his help to move a reference to the authorities concerned for a ban on the online game, called Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). The authorities could be the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The action was proposed after 16-year-old Muhammad Zakariya died by suicide in Hanjarwal area of Lahore after he missed accomplishing a mission he was assigned in the game within a stipulated time. He was found hanged with a ceiling fan in his house and his mobile phone was found on his bed with the game running on it.

Referring to the case, CCPO Hameed stated in the letter that it had prompted the Lahore police to start efforts to ban the game to save lives of millions of other children who were addicted to this online game. The boy had recently sat the matriculation exams and used to play PUBG for several hours a day – a fact endorsed by his father.

“It is further submitted that PUBG is an online multiplayer battle royale game that has gained immense popularity among youth,” the CCPO wrote, adding that it has influenced the youth to the extent that they are becoming violent, risking lives of themselves and others.

He said that failing to achieve targets or complete missions was resulting in various behavioural changes among the players, including excessive violence triggering aggressive thoughts, causing violent aggressive behaviour; addiction to complete a mission causing pain, agony and anxiety disorder, hence resulting into depression and stress; players becoming less socially active due to spending more time on the game; disruption in sleep patterns due to sitting in front of the screen for too long.

“It is requested that a reference may kindly be moved to the competent authority for banning the PUBG game to save the youth,” the CCPO stated in his letter. Furthermore, awareness campaigns should also be launched through electronic and print media to avoid such incidents in the future, he added.

The letter was written by Lahore Senior Superintendent of Police (Admin) retired Capt Liaqat Ali Malik on behalf of the CCPO.

According to some experts, PUBG is affecting the mental health of children. They say many countries are making efforts to ban the game on similar frequent complaints.

Earlier, another online game, Blue Whale Challenge, was dubbed the “suicide game” for teenagers.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2020