Teen commits suicide, cops suspect Free Fire gaming addiction

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A police team of Bhoiwada, Mumbai, today confirmed that a 14-year-old boy killed himself on February 13, 2022, because his family did not allow him to “complete a challenge on the Garena Free Fire game,” as per a report by news agency ANI. Incidentially, this incident occurred on a day before the Indian government had banned the Garena Free Fire-Illuminate game in India on February 14, 2022.

In a fresh batch, the Indian government had banned 54 apps primarily having Chinese connections.  Interestingly the popular battle royale game is Singapore-based and the developer is not from China. The game was one of the most downloaded games in India last year and had taken up the vacuum created by PUBG Mobile after it was banned in September 2020.

The game became hugely unpopular among parents and lawmakers in India after a spate of suicides are linked to the game. PUBG developer relaunched an Indian version of the game under the name BattleGrounds Mobile India in 2021 against which a public interest litigation is pending seeking to prohibit the game.

While it has been close to 5 days since the ban took effect, players who have already downloaded the game and have it on their smartphones can still continue to play it. Further, Garena Free Fire Max, an enhanced version of the game continues to be available to users on Google Play. “Preliminary probe has revealed that the boy was addicted to Free Fire online game, but what exactly triggered him to take the extreme step is still a mystery,” police said in the report according to

The online game he was addicted to needed to be played in groups. So we are trying to find out who his friends were and who were his co-players in the game so as to ascertain if anything happened during the game that led him to take the drastic step,” police said.

Free Fire linked to teen death

As per a report on Hindustan Times, the boy’s father, employed with a private construction company as a designer, received a call from his son on Sunday evening at 7.22 pm. Since he was travelling with his wife, he could not receive the call and when he called back a few minutes later, the boy didn’t answer the phone calls. The parents returned to their house and found the room was locked from inside. The father broke the glass frame above the door and unlocked the door to find that the boy had died by suicide. Bhoiwada police were informed and the body was sent to KEM Hospital for post-mortem.

No note written by the boy was found. Nothing important from his mobile conversations with his friends is found. His teachers say that he was studious. His parents also didn’t complain of anything suspicious,” said Jitendra Pawar, senior inspector of Bhoiwada police. “We have registered an accidental death report and further probing the matter,” said the DCP Vijay Patel Zone 4.  

MeitY had banned the earlier apps under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, which states that the government has the “Power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource.” The government can invoke these provisions when it is “satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence.”

The other apps in the present list include Tencent’s Xriver, NetEase’s Onmyoji Arena, and Astracraft and with alleged links to China, the latest in a series of similar blockings over the past one and half years on national security grounds after the border clashes in mid-2020. Few of the newly prohibited apps including Sweet Selfie HD, Beauty Camera, Viva Video Editor, AppLock, and Dual Space Lite, are clones or rebrands of many of the over 300 apps affiliated with Chinese technology companies that India has banned since mid-2020 amid escalating geopolitical tension among the two Asian powerhouses over a protracted border dispute in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.