There’s been a long held belief in broadcast media that you don’t report on suicides. The idea is that reporting on them may give some incentive or inspiration for someone else to commit suicide. Also, when someone commits suicide, there’s usually no greater threat to the community so to report on it does not serve the public. As a news director, I’ve often said we should only report on suicides if there’s some sort of spectacle involved. Did it include something that grabs the attention of the public like for instance, stopping traffic on the freeway, or were there other victims in the event? So, when I came across the story of the Sherwood boy who allegedly played Russian Roulette and killed himself, I was reluctant to report on it. The criteria didn’t seem to fit, even though it is an attention grabber. That can be witnessed by the fact that it’s in Oregon Live’s “most read” category.
This is just another way that social media has changed, or at least, made traditional media take a look at how we do things. Still, I wonder, should we report on things like this? I realize by just writing this, I’m giving it attention, but I really wanted to know what you think. Here’s what one suicide prevention group says about reporting on this topic:
A sad story for sure….and seemingly…one that has gotten a lot of people’s attention.