2027 VK, Federation of Asteroidal Polities -- 10 Apr. 2057: The body of asteroid miner Ampstead Axelrod Vikkenssen has been recovered from a tiny, solitary habitation cubicle in the outer fringes of the belt. Mr. Vikkenssen was 16 person-years of age. He is not survived by immediate family or by a data ghost.
According to Gax Pandleflan, senior suicidologist at the Coroner's Office of the Department of Public Safety, Mr. Vikkenssen had been dead for several months by the time his body was recovered. "The entire cubicle had been converted into a sophisticated life support system," stated Mre. Pandleflan in a text-message interview, "and the body was found connected to an extremely sophisticated virtual-experience rig. It was clear that Mr. Vikkenssen had chosen to completely forsake our world. The systems he was hooked up to would have kept him alive for a period of years without needing to be serviced. When the nutrition concentrates he was living on could no longer be effectively recycled, the system literally started digesting his body." The Coroner's Office has ruled out foul play in this death, declaring it a case of suicidal self-neglect.
Mr. Vikkenssen was a patron of ArcWorld, one of the largest and most popular virtual worlds. According to Blanver Lanulor, a spokesperson for Unreality, the publisher of ArcWorld, the simulation contains more total area than all inhabited areas of the system combined and blends seamlessly between dozens of paradigms. "We did not become aware of Mr. Vikkenssen's passing away until the auto-debit on his account stopped paying," Mr. Vikkenssen has admitted in a public statement. "We attempted to contact him and received no reply, so we reviewed his play experience in an attempt to figure out why he had stopped paying his subscription fee. We saw that his avatar had still been logged in but was just standing there. Unreality is terribly sorry for any part our service may have played in Mr. Vikkenssen's death. We offer complementary treatment programs for virtual experience addiction which we strongly encourage our patrons to make use of if their enjoyment of ArcWorld or any of our other simulations is beginning to interfere with the balance of their lives."
According to Dr. Ubik Anshari, an associate of the Geseightner Clinic for Research on Digital Hygiene, it is not common for virtual experience addiction to progress to such a degree. "Virtual experience addiction usually develops as a response to social trauma," Dr. Anshari explained in an email. "The addict retreats from their real-world social obligations into a fantasy of power, excitement, or peace and serenity. However, most people still maintain social networks in both the real and virtual worlds which serve as a balance to this withdrawal and encourage the addict to seek assistance. Mr. Vikkenssen seems to have gone to peculiar lengths to deliberately exacerbate this withdrawal, to have made a conscious choice to stop interacting with reality. He had no friends, family or associates, in or out of his preferred virtual world, who could have helped pull him out of the rabbit hole, and he removed himself completely from the proximity of neighbours and intercourse with other living bodies.. The combination of social and physical isolation could not likely have been achieved by sheer neglect."