Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Another North Suburban Suicide But With Different Press Coverage

On Thursday of last week, early in the afternoon, a Junior at Glenbrook North High School took his life at home.  While the age of the young man and the final outcome of his act mirror the Lake Forest suicides this past winter, the press handled them very differently.  In this Northbrook suicide most of the local reporting mentioned he died at home and spoke mostly about his life achievements and included quotes from those who knew him.  Only one article mentioned the word "suicide."

When I spoke with my contact at Pioneer Press regarding the standards of reporting on suicides this past winter I was told that if it can be "seen from the street" then it gets full and open coverage.  So what I read in the local coverage of the Northbrook case did not surprise me and I was glad it also followed many of the reporting recommendations mentioned in a previous post of mine.

On Tuesday, prior to Mass, as I walked through the main vestibule at Church I saw two young adults sitting and waiting with coffee in hand.  I didn't give it much thought until I exited Mass and found the main vestibule fairly crowded with young adults.  It was then apparent that the funeral Mass for the above young man was going to take place there in one hour.  Not much really differs after the finality of the act.  Family and friends come together and morn the loss of the individual.  An ad is placed in the same papers who write stories about the deceased.  This ad however is a public invitation to come and support the family in their time of grief; wake at such and such, funeral at this time and place.

Questions are asked repeatedly about why and parents worry that their sons or daughters might do the same thing at some point but most know they won't and don't.  Far too many young adults are at wakes and funerals where they normally aren't found. The questions still remain as to why, and how the press handled the news of the event carries a great deal of weight regarding how it all ultimately resolves itself.  I believe the Lake Forest parents and the Northbrook parents (and their respective communities) have very different avenues to healing.  Both are full of pain but one road contains no unnecessary issues related to press coverage and the chances of contagion are minimized.

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