The taboo against the public discussion of suicide has largely been dispelled in recent years. However, still left open is the debate about when it is proper for a newspaper to report suicide as the cause of a death.
It can be a difficult decision for editors, one that leaves them open for criticism regardless of how they decide.
The policy at The Lima News is to report a suicide occurred only when it is an integral element of a news event. This can be when a suicide happens in a public setting, involves a “public person” or has some extreme extenuating circumstance.
Otherwise, we see no compelling reason to report the cause of death was a suicide.
Does that mean we are catering to the stigma that suicide carries — the so-called “uncomfortable silence”?
Some will argue this to be true, but I don’t think so. It’s not a question of whether media should cover suicide, but how we do so. The Poynter Institute, a newspaper think tank, put it best: “When done properly, suicide coverage can be an opportunity to provide the public with information and resources that can save lives.”
For years newspapers feared the reporting of suicides by teenagers and others could lead to copycat suicides. We now know from suicide prevention experts such a fear was overstated.
The American Foundation for Suicide Abuse as well as other mental health experts say untreated depression and anxiety are the underlining issues leading to 90 percent of teen suicides. The foundation notes that “hiding or downplaying a student suicide might encourage students to ignore their own symptoms or those of others who could be helped.”
Stories like the one written by Lima News reporter Bryan Reynolds (“Out of the Darkness”) on Aug. 6 go into great detail explaining this. We’re sure to see more stories from others during September as it’s been designated as “suicide prevention month.”
ROSES AND THORNS: Make room for a true Plugger in the rose garden.
Rose: To Mrs. Plugger, Sondra Dreitzler, of Cridersville. She had her 12th submission illustrated in the syndicated comic strip “Pluggers” on Friday. It said: “When a Plugger sees a coin in a parking lot, she has to decide if it’s worth bending over for since she may not be able to stand back up.” Sondra first was published in Pluggers in April 2011.
Rose: Elida High School computer science teacher Mark Suter has been named one of the 10 Teachers of the Year for 2018 by the Ohio Department of Education. Suter is also one of five finalists to represent Ohio for national Teacher of the Year.
Rose: The entire Shawnee High School football team showed up at a dedication ceremony Saturday in Harrod of a monument to honor the four Ohioans who died when the USS Frank E. Evans was sunk in a shipping accident during the Vietnam War. Among those who died was Larry Allan Gracely, a 1965 graduate of Shawnee and a former football player.
Rose: To Josh Kuhlman. The 16-year-old kept the family tradition going in winning the men’s division of the annual Lima Family YMCA/Kewpee Triathlon. His brothers, Derek and Jamie, had previously won it.
Rose: To the Mulcahy sisters, who claimed the top three spots in leading Lima Central Catholic to the Allen County Girls High School Golf Championship. Mary Kelly was medalist with an 82 and sisters Erin and Meghan each shot an 88.
Rose: A crowd of 1,300 packed into Simmons Field to watch the Lima Locos win their second Great Lakes Collegiate League championship in three years and their fifth overall title.
Rose: The Husky Lima Refinery donated more than $100,000 to nine local charities. The cash was raised during its annual golf outing.
Thorn: In the name of chip and seal road maintenance, truckloads of loose stone was splattered over the busiest stretch of Eastown Road last week. It made for terrible driving conditions with cars throwing stone every which way as well as creating one huge cloud of dust.
Thorn: Thieves broke into the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, making off with a gold Lunar Excursion Module that had been presented to Neil Armstrong.
Thorn: To John Denton, of Ada. Officials said he grabbed a club and began breaking the windows of a sheriff’s cruiser when Hardin County deputies tried to stop him for a routine traffic violation.
PARTING SHOT: A college education adds thousands of dollars to a person’s income, which is then spent sending their children to college.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.