The Tragic Death Of Irving Lee Pulling

Irving Lee (Bink) Pulling II died by suicide on June 9, 1982, at the age of 17. In addition to being a devastating tragedy, Irving's death became a point of heated controversy — as a popular fantasy tabletop role-playing game, "Dungeons & Dragons," was blamed for provoking his suicide.

My kind of Meeple reports Dungeons & Dragons is a cooperative role-playing game, in which players assume a role and work together to build a story around those roles.

As reported by Washington Post, authorities investigating Irving Lee Pulling's death noted his bedroom was decorated with "Dungeons & Dragons" paraphernalia, including at least one magazine about the role-playing game. They also said his suicide note, which reportedly contained "unexplainable-type" phrases, referenced his involvement in the game.

Prior to his death, Irving Lee Pulling was an active participant in the Patrick Henry High School Dungeons & Dragons club. Although principal Robert A. Bracey III said the game was "not part of the school curriculum," he acknowledged students regularly met at the school to play the game. He further acknowledged that a teacher started and facilitated the group.

Washington Post reports Irving Lee Pulling's parents were convinced his participation in the game was directly related to his suicide, as one of the other players reportedly placed a "curse" on him only hours before he died. However, a number of Irving's classmates said the teen struggled with "fitting in," and seemed to be troubled for quite some time.

Was Dungeons & Dragons to blame for Irving Lee Pulling's Death?

As reported by Washington Post, Irving Lee Pulling was an accomplished student, who was part of Patrick Henry High School's talented and gifted program. However, he struggled with making friends. Classmate Victoria Rockecharlie said Irving "had a lot of problems ... that weren't associated with the game." Another classmate said Irving attempted to run for school office, but nobody would agree to be his campaign manager.

Despite reports to the contrary, Pulling's parents were adamant Dungeons & Dragons contributed to their son's suicide.

In 1983, Irving Lee Pulling's parents filed a lawsuit against Patrick Henry principal Robert A. Bracey III, alleging he was responsible for Irving's death — as he allowed students to play Dungeons & Dragons on school property. They asked the court for $1 million in damages plus interest and reimbursement for their legal expenses.

As reported by Washington Post, the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, but Patricia Pulling went on to form an awareness campaign called Bothered about Dungeons & Dragons, or B.A.D.D. BBC reports The campaign drew harsh criticism. However, Patricia believed it was vital to raise awareness about the game and her conviction that it led to her son's suicide.

According to Patricia Pulling, Dungeons & Dragons promotes a number of controversial themes including "blasphemy," "satanic type rituals," and "demon summoning."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.