Those in the news business have tough calls to make at times when news breaks about a suicide.
Traditionally, newsrooms don’t report the names of people who commit suicide unless they’re a celebrity or some public official who is well known.
The conventional thinking is that by making public the name of a suicide victim or reporting on an act of suicide in a sensational or overly-dramatic way, it can push potential suicide victims off the edge so to speak. And there are studies that show a correlation.
And there are guidelines for reporting on suicides put out by mental health agencies, such as not reporting the method used.
But in today’s world in which the first details of Robin Williams’ suicide came out on Twitter and other social networks before the news media publicly reported it, it’s impossible to put a lid on coverage of suicides.
The news media have a responsibility to be sensitive, no doubt about it. But beyond that, in a fully connected instantaneous world, when news happens, it gets out there.