Recent Celebrity Suicides in the U.S. - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

“Every death, not just Anthony Bourdain, not just Kate Spade, not just people that who are famous and names that we know… every death is here to teach us how to live better. Every death is here to remind us of our own life and the value of it,” said Oprah Winfrey in an interview with Extra. “So what will come of these deaths in sequence like this, the suicides, is a more open desire to talk about it. There are lots and lots of people who have not been forthcoming because they are ashamed still of talking about mental illness in their family and mental illness in people around them, but it is serious and it is real.”

And because Bourdain and Spade both committed suicide within the same week, many media organizations are looking at how they cover this ultra-sensitive topic.

More than a few media outlets have publicized the Suicide Prevention Hotline’s number, and operators there have said they’ve received the largest volume of calls in its history since Bourdain’s and Spade’s deaths.

The Associated Press issued new guidance to its journalists on how to appropriately report on suicides, and The Poynter Institute gave clarification on its advice, as well.

Associate Managing Editor at The New York Times Philip B. Corbett said, “If a suicide is newsworthy, we want to give readers the key facts and not leave them in the dark,” Corbett said. “That would typically include such basic information as where and how. But we want to avoid a level of detail that might seem sensational, gratuitous or voyeuristic. We would likely report whether there was a note, but would consider very carefully before publishing anything from the note.”

What Do You Think?

Should news outlets be more careful in reporting suicides? I’d love to see fun facts and other interesting info you’ve learned, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino