We're Reporting Suicide Wrong
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Health and Wellness

We're Reporting Suicide Wrong

And it's killing people!

We're Reporting Suicide Wrong

Death, especially when it is caused by oneself, is always difficult to discuss. Losing someone in any way, especially for those closest to that person, is hard. Losing them because they willingly caused their death is even harder. You feel like you failed them, that you could have, and should have, done more to help them, to keep them from taking their own lives, to keep them here with you and everyone else that loves them. Hindsight is 20/20, but oftentimes, in actuality, there wasn't much more you could do.

Suicide is always a touchy subject because it's not really something to place blame on, and yet we always do it. Loved ones blame themselves, having not done enough. Sometimes the individual is blamed, having not reached out for help or support. Or maybe it's society's fault, normalizing violence and death, as well as suicide specifically, pushing the person closer and closer. Well, there might actually be evidence to suggest that's true.

According to a new report from the CDC, the rate of suicide in the United States has risen by 30% since 1999, and throughout these 19 years, there have been several spikes in the suicide rate. Following 9/11 and during the Great Recession are obvious ones, but there are some more random ones. For example, during and after August of 2014 the suicide rate in the US went up by about 10%. What caused this uptick? Look back at the news stories from the month, specifically August 11-13.

August 11 was the day Robin Williams was found dead. It was speculated over the next few days until the autopsy was released and confirmed the suspicions, that he had killed himself. The news media loves a good story, like a famous celebrity like Williams dying, but when you add in the bonus of it having been suicide, they go crazy for it.

You see, what most people don't realize (whether it be naivety or simply denying it) is that these guys and girls that sit in front of the cameras to report to us (the David Muirs, Lester Holts, Anderson Coopers, and Tucker Carlsons of the world) aren't there to be our friends or our newsgivers, they're there because the networks put them there to make money. Whether it be print news, TV news, online reporting, or anything else, the purpose of these news agencies like NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX, Apple News, The New York Times, The Washington Examiner, etc. is to make money. That's the idea behind a business, after all, and if it didn't make money (or have the potential to) they wouldn't do it.

That's why we have clickbait and false headlines, to draw people in. So when the story is so juicy you don't even have to make something up to get viewers or readers or the like, they pounce on it. Usually, celebrity deaths are big draws, and when it's a murder or a suicide the amount of time they can devote to covering it and the number of viewers for those stories go skyrocketing, creating situations these channels and websites dream of. When Michael Jackson died they reported it for weeks, many of their broadcasts reaching all-time highs thanks to the coverage of the King of Pop's death.

This happens with suicide, too. The most recent examples of celebrity suicide are extremely recent with the unfortunate passings of designer Kate Spade and chef/TV personality Anthony Bourdain. Like I said earlier, it's never easy to talk about these things, so that's why the news companies do it and why the government tries to protect us. The CDC, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has, for decades, issued guidelines for news agencies on how to report celebrity deaths and suicides because they understand that 1. Celebrities are highly influential to their fans and other people, and 2. Suicide is an epidemic in this and many other countries.

The guidelines talk about how you're supposed to say or write certain things, what details you should and shouldn't pay attention to, and what resources you should offer (like the suicide hotline) and how to offer them. However, a lot of these practices water down the juices of these stories, so the companies just outright ignore them. Not supposed to report how they killed themselves? Too bad, the picture above is literally a headline I saw in my newsfeed from the New York Post! Supposed to give the phone number and URL for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Center? Sure, but instead we'll give you the link to our website where you can find it.

News 12, a local cable news channel in New York, ACTUALLY DID THIS! I was watching one of their pieces on Mr. Bourdain and they said, as closely as I can remember, "If you or a loved one are suffering from depression, considering suicide, or you suspect may be considering suicide, please visit the Suicide Prevention Center's website for signs that someone may be considering suicide or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline. The website and phone number can be found in the links section of www.news12.com" target="_blank">www.news12.com and underneath the reporters, where they should have just put the website and phone number, they put www.news12.com.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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