Reporters Must Reconcile Guilt and Blame After Suicide of Interviewee

SUICIDE is an ugly business. Its shockwaves ripple far and wide. Guilt visits everyone who knew the person. But blame cannot breathe life into the dead. And if we’re not careful, it can do the opposite.

The two radio presenters who prank-called the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was convalescing could not have predicted the horror that would unfold.

While suicide is a complex issue and we cannot know with any certainty exactly why this tragedy happened, these radio presenters now have to live with the knowledge that a silly stunt may have triggered a personal maelstrom that ultimately resulted in a woman’s death.

My thoughts are with the family of the nurse found dead on Saturday morning in a suspected suicide.

But I also worry for the mental welfare of those radio presenters. They are experiencing an avalanche of hatred from social media users. And some of it is from people within their own industry.

But in the rush to condemn them, journalists and commentators would do well to first reflect on their own careers. There can’t be a person working in media who hasn’t done something they later regret. Every day we interview strangers, with little knowledge of what might be going on in their personal lives or how well-equipped they are to handle the spotlight.

by Jill Stark, The Age

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