Writer scolds newspaper for coverage of suicide


Dear Editor,
I am very hurt and disappointed by the tactless article that was printed in the Richwood Gazette about my niece, Madison Green, my sister’s daughter.
The details and information you chose to print were unnecessary and irresponsible. Would you honestly write this exact article about your own child or even about the child of one of your employees? What a shameful thing you did. The Police Beat and Sheriff’s Report did not include the details you did in your article. Shame on you. North Union’s school superintendent’s letter to the community was not detailed like your article. It asked people to be sensitive to the issue, which you clearly ignored. Shame on you.
You called this unexpected loss a suicide. You stated the method and the location. You printed this on the front page. You did not even give anyone the chance to read Madison’s obituary first to learn about her beautiful life. Much of what you did is discouraged by the World health Organization, in their guide to responsible reporting on suicide.
My brother-in-law called to address this and was given the excuse that certain things were mentioned to put people’s minds at ease, such as why they might have heard gunshots or to educate people. Concern over gunshots should e addressed immediately by law enforcement, not by a weekly newspaper.
I do not care to hear your foolish excuses for such irresponsible action. It is an absolute disgrace you allow such reckless reporting and a shame you did not consider the feelings of Madison’s many family members and friends who live in this close-knit community.
Please educate your columnists, editors and others within your company in the area of responsible reporting on such a loss.
A very disappointed community member, family member, teacher where Madison attended school each day and aunt 14 year old Madison Lynn Green.
Amanda (Price) Wiley
Editor’s note: The Journal-Tribune and Richwood Gazette do not take the issue of reporting on suicide lightly. We consistently ask members of our Reader Advisory Board to review our policy and have adjusted it based on those recommendations.
The guideline we try to follow is basically that we afford each situation the amount of privacy in which it occurred. Situations that unfold in a public place or involve guns require additional explanation. And even in those situations, we still try to protect the identity of the deceased. We did not identify the young lady named in this letter.
And in reference to the reporting of suicides by those close to us, I would point to our story entitled Stella’s Cloud which ran in the Jan. 12 edition of the Journal-Tribune. It details a 15-year-old Marysville student who took her own life. It details the struggles of her family in trying to help her. It is told, primarily, through the eyes of her mother, Vanessa Prentice, a Journal-Tribune employee.
Because of the reaction to Stella’s Cloud the Journal-Tribune has committed to helping the community find a way to fight its rising suicide rate. We now partner with the Union County Mental Health Recovery Board to run public service announcements urging those struggling to seek help and guiding them to the sources. We have pledged to do more stories about the problem and are currently compiling information about how schools identify and help students fighting depression.
We understand that no coverage of suicide will seem appropriate to all readers, but that is the burden of journalism. We also understand that such tragic situations bring with them an unfathomable weight of grief and sometimes news coverage of a tragedy is scrutinized.
But that is why we are here. We report on difficult issues in order start a public conversation. Raising awareness and spurring tough discussions is a path toward communities healing their wounds.

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