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Publishing names of suicide victims?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mustangj17, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Just wondering who would or wouldn't publish a name of a person who died after committing suicide.

    I remember being taught in J-School that you don't print names, but today, I had to post a story to the web from a veteran cops/courts reporter that went through a veteran copy editor.

    I feel like I should say something, but I'm new, and this my first non sports gig- so I haven't said anything yet. I could be wrong, but isn't a bit unethical?
  2. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Depends... a private suicide at home, you generally don't. A very public one or a public figure, that guideline becomes far looser...
  3. Agree with Slappy. Generally, you avoid it because it's believed it actually encourages more suicides (the person who did it got the attention they were seeking, didn't they?).
    But if someone is in a public place or is a public figure, you're going to have to address it.
  4. Overrated

    Overrated Guest

    I wholeheartedly disagree all suicides are to gain attention.
  5. I do too. In fact, my best friend in high school did it and I'm certain it was not to gain attention.
    Still, that's the logic, at least that I've heard, about not printing their names.
  6. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    The guy jumped off a bridge, and landed on a car. So, sort of public there. But again could have omitted his name.

    Not like the family wants to read his name in the paper after they found out he jumped to his death.
  7. Overrated

    Overrated Guest

    OK, DC. I get what you're saying now after re-reading your initial post. It's all good.
  8. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    the exact same thing happened at my old rag. guy jumped off a bridge on an interstate onto oncoming traffic below. it wasn't immediately ruled a suicide and we ran the name simply because it happened in such a public setting and closed down the interstate for quite a while. but on another occasion, i got blasted by a few readers for not running the story of a dog catcher killed himself at home.
  9. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    OK, I'm confused.

    Writing it was a suicide won't make more people do it...but mentioning the guy's name will? Is that really the argument?

    I'd never heard of not mentioning the name. I'd heard of not writing that it was a suicide. Just saying he was found dead at his home or whatever. But I can't imagine that the name would be withheld to reduce copycats.
  10. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Active Member

    In this case, I think the name could be published. I mean, he did it in public, jumping off a bridge and onto a car (?)

    It's not as if the person shot themselves at home... it was actually a public event.
  11. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I can't be certain if actually meant to hit the car, and he may have gotten hit by the car. I think thats why we originally went after the story. Our reporter thought the driver hit the dude as he was walking down the street. Needless to say, this was probably a little scarier.
  12. I'm wondering if it would be correct to call a person who commits suicide a victim. It may be just as correct to call that person the assailant. May be able to argue others affected by the suicide are victims. My guess is it'd just be best to avoid the term victim all together.
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