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Sony sued by suicide mum

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An American woman is taking Sony Online to court after her son committed suicide last Thanksgiving. The man was logged on to Everquest just minutes before he shot himself, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Despite repeatedly suffering epileptic fits while playing the game, 21 year old Shawn Woolley played up to twelve hours a day, quitting his job and leaving his family to spend more time with the addictive game.

Now a Miami lawyer representing the unfortunate woman wants to force Sony to put cigarette-style warning labels on the game, cautioning that "extensive playing could be hazardous to your health". While players jokingly refer to the game as EverCrack, this lawsuit looks like another case of overambitious lawyers trying to make a quick buck out of bereavement.

Shawn was an overweight loner diagnosed with depression and a schizoid personality disorder, using Everquest as an escape from every day life. Even if something that happened in the game did trigger his suicide, it's not something that is likely to happen to more stable Everquest users, and past experience has shown that warning labels aren't going to put people off playing the game for hours at a time.

Rather more worrying is the story of another 21 year old Everquest addict, this time a college student who started skipping classes to play the game during his senior year. According to Jay Parker, a chemical dependency counselor, the student played the game for 36 hours straight and then suffered a severe psychotic break due to sleep deprivation. "He thought the characters had come out of the game and were chasing him. He was running through his neighborhood having hallucinations."

This kind of incident is obviously rare, but it bear remembering that too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

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