We are now in the season of serenity and joy for most people.  But not for all.  Ironically, it is during this very holiday season that there is often a spike among suicides, especially suicides among the young.

Which begs the question:  should suicides be publicized in and by the media?  Generally, health professionals say  no.  They cite evidence that shows by putting stories of suicides in or on the media, you invite copy-cat actions i.e. more suicides.   For example, during the period  while the newspaper in Detroit was on strike, the suicide rate dropped dramatically.

Canadian newspapers and television stations have stepped away from the long-standing practice of not publishing about specific suicides.  Many argue that saying nothing at all is no longer an option.

Recently a 15-year-old from Nova Scotia killed herself after months of bullying at school and on line.  Do you think playing up this story in the media would encourage more teen-age suicides or would it deter them?

Should suicides be publicized?

What do you think?


  1. 1

    Neil, I don’t know where you got the idea that this is the season for “serentiy and joy” for most people. I don’t know of anyone who thinks so. It might be what the religion pushers want, but that’s not what it is. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be nearly the number of homicides there are, eh?

    As for whether or not to publish suicides…what would be the purpose? If it’s to point out that bullying behavior can kill, well, then, yes, of course! And then follow that up with the arrest and trial of the bullies and the enablers, and make that equally public!

  2. 2

    I have Chanukah , so it`s holiday time for me,too. Nobody has to be pushed to enjoy things.

    For those who, unfortunately have problems ,I can see how the contrast glares. Publicizing suicides does encourage the vulnerable, and I believe that many news outlets already have dropped covering them.

    If it touches on public interest,such as this latest case, maybe it can make the news. But these are mostly private people , and the families deserve to be left alone if they wish.

  3. 3
    Neil McKenty Says:

    But what if the suicide involves a public person like a film star or politician? Should it be publicized then?

  4. 4

    The media being what it is, it will come out very quickly.Film stars may try to hide the facts,and some have done so-the star of Hogan`s heros comes to mind. The press loses its interest,and people move on.

    Politicians are different. If they`re in power,there are other issues,as these people are public,and a good part of their life is almost public domain. There is a much greater `right to know` than with other public figures.

    Then again, jack Layton`s widow has hidden the exact form of cancer which claimed him , and the press has backed off.

  5. 5

    Describing death by any means should be a family’s personal choice whether the person is famous or not. I see that people are disclosing death by HIV Aids, or Alzheimers, more now than in the past.

  6. 6

    “What lies behind us
    and what lies before us
    are tiny matters compared
    to what lies within us.”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  7. 7

    “…jack Layton`s widow has hidden the exact form of cancer which claimed him , and the press has backed off.”

    She actually has her own name and independent personality: Olivia Chow. And why is it so important that anyone know the specific type of cancer? Is it not enough to know that he had cancer? Why do you need every little detail?

  8. 8

    Re: Jack Layton.
    Olivia Chow said in an interview that they didn’t want people who had that same cancer to lose hope, because there is a fairly high cure rate. As time went on, the cancer had metastcized so he had several kinds of cancer and it became more difficult to describe.

  9. 9

    lady J,

    I simply referred to Ms. Chow as his widow to put it in context,she being survivng family. No , I don`t “need“ to know it at all, but she made a point of holding back this detail for some time , with some success

    I suppose I should be pleased that you pay such close attention to my post, but geez…..

  10. 10


    I didn`t fully answer your question . For elected officials, details of their demise-natural or otherwise-must be disclosed. WE have to know that there was no foul play involved . It`s bad enough these days , with conspiracy theorists challenging anything,regardless of how well documented it is.

    I still remember you covering this on your talk show,mentioning your father`s letters from the front, and wondering how long it would be untill WW 1 itself would be challenged.

  11. 11

    Phil, I think perhaps Olivia “held back” such information because she felt it is private and personal and no one else’s business. Your use of the term, “hidden” was what pronpted my response to you. Such a word in this context implies a right to such information, and I was wondering what prompted you to think so.

  12. 12
    Jim Says:

    Would more people commit suicide, if they could be at their own funeral, in order to see how many so-called friends turned up?
    I find it strange that there is someone around, who don’t know anyone who believes that this season has some ‘”serentiy (sic) and joy” in their lives’. After all the suicide rate in Canada is approximately 1/100 of 1%. Does that mean that over 99% of the population have no serenity and joy in their lives, or does it mean that one poor soul in this country needs compassion, and a candle, to be used to light up their life, and allow joy to enter. (Please note that I did say to “light up the candle” for joy)

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