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ERIC Number: ED375417
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Aug
Pages: 34
Abstractor: N/A
Ethical Issues in Covering Teen Suicide Stories: Deadly Dilemmas and Fatal Flaws.
Willey, Susan
A study examined news coverage by "The Saint Petersburg Times" of a local double teen suicide in August 1993. Focusing on how the story was covered, the study explored the newspaper's decision-making process, analyzing the process in relation to standard philosophical methods in ethics and recognized journalistic principles. As background, psychological research on suicide and the media was reviewed and interviews with mental health professionals and persons close to the victims were conducted. The newspaper ran headlines that read "Teens leap to death in lovers' pact at Skyway" and "Northeast High students reportedly were distraught over Marc's impending move to Cincinnati." Reporters interviewed high school friends and officials, and much space was devoted to the story. A clinical psychologist and professor who belongs to a post-prevention team that works with youth in schools where a student has committed suicide has urged caution by the press when reporting teen suicide and feels that the media must assume ethical responsibility for such a story. Suggested guidelines for journalists on how to cover a teen suicide story include: (1) sensitivity to the pain and shock of surviving friends and family; (2) self-questioning about what the public really needs to know about a suicide; (3) caution about using quotes obtained in this highly emotional situation; (4) inclusion of information on how to recognize suicidal signs and where to call for help; and (5) development of proactive stories that educate the public. (Contains 27 references.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (77th, Atlanta, GA, August 10-13, 1994). Contains print of uneven quality.