UVa Student Suicide

Cecil writes: Apparently a UVa 2nd-year student committed suicide on 11/23; the Cav Daily reports on the story here. Here’s my question: as far as I can tell, the Daily Progress has not yet reported this story. I knew of the suicide on 11/24, from an email I received as a UVa employee. But I could find no mention of it in the DP from 11/24 on. (I could be wrong, though I did check every day.) So I guess I’m baffled by what appears to be a show of restraint? by a for-profit news organization. Someone with formal journalism experience, enlighten me–would the DP be holding off on reporting the story out of respect for the parents/friends? on the request of UVa, not to have a downer story circulate right before Thanksgiving? (I’ve ruled out the idea that the DP would not find this newsworthy, and I would hope that the DP would have known about it….)

12 Responses to “UVa Student Suicide”


  • but usually suicides are not reported in any media outlets unless it was on a grander scale IE jumping off the empire state building.

  • that he died somewhere else? There is no mention of where he died and he could have killed himself in Maine.

  • From the Press Herald:

    Sloan Critchfield died suddenly on Nov. 23, 2004, in Charlottesville, Va.

  • I asked someone in the "know" and suicides, not just here, they aren’t really reported since they are a touchy subject and emotional for family.

  • Yeah, I should have said earlier–he shot himself here, at his off-campus housing.

  • a policy to not report suicides certainly makes sense. i guess i don’t know much about journalism! sometimes it seems like there ought to be more things that news organizations leave alone, out of respect for families.

  • this one UVa Med student was so under pressure, that one day he show up to class and shot himself right there. Can’t remeber but I think it was in the mid 90’s.

  • he shot himself in the foyer of jordan hall. i was driving buses back then, and my route stopped at the hospital every 30 minutes. i was in there using the can about 10 minutes before it happened. when i got back a half-hour later, there were cops everywhere.

    my neighbor killed himself back in 96. he lived in a basement apt. next door to me and a buddy of mine. we were home when it happened, but didn’t hear anything. the f’d up thing was, about 2 days later, we were going someplace, and a guy and a girl came up and asked if we knew where the kid was, and why there was police tape across his door. they said they hadn’t heard from him in about a week. i told them what happened (what else was i gonna do?). turns out it was his sister and his best friend or something. that was a weird moment, i must say.

  • The Progress has a policy of not reporting suicides unless they happen in some kind of a public way, if I remember right. Of course, I might not remember right, because I never thought it was a very good rule. But there you go.

    I guess the thinking is a combination of 1) If kids read about suicide in the paper, they’ll all start killing themselves; 2) Respect for the family, although respect for people’s families doesn’t seem to be much of an issue in the whole rest of journalism; and 3) This is the big one — not wanting people to call and yell at the publisher. Remember a couple of years ago, some kid set himself on fire in front of his school in Albemarle County? The paper did a story on that, I think, or maybe just asked some uncomfortable questions about it. Anyway, the school’s principal went batshit and gave a bunch of people at the paper headaches for a while. So I think they’d just as soon not be bothered, and thus rules 1 and 2 are invoked for public consumption.

  • Although I should add, reporters do enough things to make themselves feel creepy, so many of them just draw the line about writing stories about people’s sad deaths, in cases where the public has nothing to gain by learning details.

    That’s the noblest justification for not writing about these things, I think. Believe it or not, reporters think they are performing a public service, and it’s generally hard to see what good comes out of putting a suicide in the newspaper (though of course there are many exceptions, and many more cases that are arguable).

  • JMZ

    yea, i recall that one time in AHS where some kid commited suicide and the paper did ran a report about it. Then some other kid who was in the less popular killed himself also to get some attentation from what I heard.

  • Killing yourself to get attention is probably the most non-productive thing I can imagine. A failed attempt might be the better way to go.

    It must be the most dire circumstance one can undergo – to think suicide is the only solution. A great pity.

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