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Suicide in the media


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#1 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 12:21 PM

Two recent high profile cases involving the deaths of two Greater Victoria women - unrelated cases - have concluded without the mainstream media or police indicating that both were cases of suicide.  Mainstream media just left us hanging, completely avoiding the subject that would be of most interest in the article - the cause of the death.  We know that the media had the information, but they chose to to report it.  Why?

We don't believe in hiding the cause of death when it is suicide. Suicide is very real, and takes the lives of hundreds of Canadians every year.

What do YOU think? Should we be quiet, and ignore this mental illness, or shed a light on the issue - including reporting the cause of death in high profile cases - in order to perhaps prevent more deaths?

 

My Facebook page recently reported on a near suicide attempt that was very, very public and we were chastised by a suicide prevention charity for doing that.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REPORTING ON SUICIDE

VICTORIA  - A suicide attempt in a busy shopping district in the Victoria area recently became the topic of social media posts.  A social marketing firm promoting the downtown posted “exclusive” photos of the event, generating controversy and rebuke. Thankfully the police were successful in preventing fatal action and in getting the individual help. However, the incident raises questions about the role that online coverage and content, does, and could play in the coverage of suicide.

Suicide coverage should be informed by what we know:  

·         More than 50 research studies worldwide have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood ofsuicide in vulnerable individuals. The magnitude of the increase is related to the amount, duration and prominence of coverage.

·         Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death.

·         Covering suicide carefully, even briefly, can change public misperceptions and correct myths which can encourage those who are vulnerable or at risk to seek help.

 

 

 

 

We sent this reply:

 

Thanks for the note.  Honestly, and respectfully, we take a different view.  A more modern view, we'd say.   One that encourages discussion of mental illness, andsuicide, rather than one that ignores it. 

 
We side with the author of this piece, a journalist:
 
 
We did not discuss the incident in Victoria, we reported it and left others to talk about it.  We think that's positive.
 
Not many years ago, a person suffering from breast cancer would not let their diagnosis become public, for some type of shame about what part of their body was affected by cancer.  Thankfully, that shame has been mostly put to rest, and now breast cancer charities are among North America's largest fundraising organizations, fighting to find a cure, and advance treatment methods for the disease. 
 
So while we read your note and suggestions with interest, we don't feel your recommendations are a modern approach, or ones that will fight stigma.

 

 

What are your thoughts?

 


#2 North Shore

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 10:05 PM

I had no idea about the first woman, but reading the story about the second, it seemed pretty clear that she'd killed herself - healthy women in their late 30's don't just up and die.  Absent foul play or an accident, how else did she die?  I felt incredibly sad, and wondered what she was thinking when she dropped off her child at school for the last time that morning.

 

Why is it not published?  I think that suicide is still considered somewhat shameful, and so not printing allows the victim to have some 'dignity' in their death.  Still, though, it should be talked about...what wouldn't these women's friends and families have done or said to try and help had they known what was going to happen?

 

Sorry - not particularly articulate of me..


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#3 Sparky

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 10:06 PM

"More than 50 research studies worldwide have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. The magnitude of the increase is related to the amount, duration and prominence of coverage.

 

The person that wrote the above statement is filtering studies and information to suit their argument. Sure it is a delicate subject, especially for relatives and loved ones. There was a time when out of wedlock situations were hidden from everyone. In fairness, by stifling these kinds of events, other people could not learn from the misfortune of others. Right wrong or indifferent, a fact is a fact and hiding from others could do as much harm as good.

 

 

I dislike the statement "certain types of news coverage" in their communication with you.

 

 

Here is a study that at first glance looks at both the positive and negative affects of publicizing suicide. There are many more studies like this. Everyone including me can pick out the tidbits that suit their cause and not draw attention to results that may not lend credence to their argument.

 


http://www.ncbi.nlm..../v057p00238.pdf

 

"More than 40 scientific papers have been published on the
impact of suicide stories in the media on suicide in the real
world. However, there have been some inconsistencies in the

findings of this research."

 

"Most of the evidence to date for a copycat suicide effect is very
indirect and not fully satisfactory. That is, associations are
drawn between the presence of a suicide story and a rise in the
social suicide rate. It typically is not known to what extent the
people committing suicide are aware of the suicide story."


#4 Barra

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 09:18 PM

I also concluded that these were suicides. I disagree that we have a "right" to know. These sudden deaths must be very traumatic to the family. Having details discussed in the media would only add to their distress. It seems to me that wanting to know how ( was it a knife? Was it a noose?) is mere voyerism.

If a friend or relative committed suicide, I would not ask their next of kin how they did it. My obligation as a friend would be to support the survivor.

As members of the public when we learn of a tragic death like this we should just back off and butt out.
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#5 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 10:22 AM

No, not when police went out if their way to ask for help, then went silent. Are these two families going to have memorial services, where every single person will be whispering to one another "how did they die?"

#6 LJ

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 07:06 PM

Well I think it would be OK to state they committed suicide or better yet, died from a self inflicted wound.

 

I don't need any more details than that nor do I need photos.


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#7 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 08:25 AM

We have word that another person that was reported missing (and police asked for help finding) has been found, deceased.  It would be nice if police let us know the search has been called off.

 

EDIT:  OK, they have let us know, but no media has reported it.  And in the "found" press release they don't even name him, or indicate his status. 

 

http://westshore.rcm...contentId=33384



#8 snub

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 12:25 PM

VicNews has reported that he "has been located" and it is Larry Johnson.

 

 

 

http://www.vicnews.c.../241720041.html



#9 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 12:34 PM

Ah, there we go.  Anyways, he's dead.



#10 Holden West

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 12:42 PM

I don't see anything in the news release, article or comments indicating he's dead, just that he was found.


"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
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#11 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 12:50 PM

I don't see anything in the news release, article or comments indicating he's dead, just that he was found.

 

No, that information is not deemed important to this public.  But we have a source in emergency services.



#12 atoosagurl

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 12:55 PM

http://missingpeople...nce-johnson-53/



#13 snub

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 01:03 PM

That is sad news. I knew Larry. He owned Westshore Transmission with his wife Dianne. Nice people.



#14 Holden West

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 03:50 PM

They went out of their way to avoid saying the name of the business. It may be irrelevant but on the other hand, if they had publicized it, someone may have thought, "Hey, I was shopping there yesterday and some guy..." etc.


"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#15 Mike K.

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 03:54 PM

Perhaps the police suspect suicide from the get-go and make the plea to the public as more of a formality than anything else?


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#16 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 08:29 AM

Hmmmmm, the Gorge Soccer Association is reporting financial irregularities, they may be missing over $100,000.

 

- In early January the Executive appointed a new Treasurer (Todd Abercrombie), passing a motion that he be given signing authority and that all club financial records be turned over to him and to the Gorge Finance Committee. 

- President Terry Marra passed away before the records could be secured. 

- Upon gaining control of the bank accounts, the Executive became aware that the Association’s bank accounts were empty and a significant amount of money remains unaccounted for.

 

 

http://www.gorgesoccer.ca/

 

Terry Marra, who "passed away suddenly" a couple weeks ago, seems to be the main suspect, although the spokesman on the radio today sure danced around that, and for sure the word "suicide" was never uttered.

 

http://www.victoriah....php?newsid=650

 

Guess he killed himself when he felt the heat.



#17 Holden West

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 10:22 AM

The family would want to keep a lid on any suicide talk, not just for the usual taboo reasons but suicide at this time implies guilt over financial wrongdoings and that puts the family under police scrutiny: were they aware of an increase in the family budget? He's suspected of pilfering over $100,000.

 

A partnership was recently made with the FC Victoria club--I'm sure investigators will see if any of their funds were mishandled.


"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#18 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 10:35 AM

TC obit says no service by his request, family asks for privacy.



#19 Holden West

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 10:41 AM

Sadly for them, they won't get privacy. The media and police are obligated to investigate what went on.


"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#20 Holden West

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 08:07 PM

This is all VicNews can say so far:

 

Marra, 55, died suddenly on Feb. 7, 2014 before the records were turned over. Vancouver Island Regional Coroner Matt Brown says his office is still investigating the cause and manner of Marra’s death.

 

http://www.vicnews.c.../246916651.html

 

This story will have legs. The financial angle should probably be spun off.


"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

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