Letter from the editor: Reporting suicide

Danielle Maddox, Editor-in-Chief

Dear Tulane community,

I would like to address concerns you have raised about The Hullabaloo’s course of action in reporting sophomore Daniel Rupert’s suicide. Our staff is sad to lose a member of the Tulane family. In an effort to prevent future suicides and inform our community we feel an ethical and journalistic duty to report his death the way we have. I assure you we engaged in serious discussion before moving forward.

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, and according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, covering this problem using the proper guidelines can encourage those struggling with thoughts of suicide to seek help. Almost 40,000 people died through intentional self-harm in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By reporting on this problem, we clear the fog surrounding suicide that often leads to copycats. The Poynter Institute, a nationally respected journalism training school dedicated to educating media leaders, explains our reasons for including suicide as cause of death. Suicide experts generally agree, according to Poynter, that the question is not whether the media should report on suicide but how to report on it.

Journalistic guidelines direct us not to sensationalize the tragedy and instead use it as an opportunity to educate the community on mental health resources, such as Tulane’s Counseling and Psychological Services and suicide hotlines. We’ve worked to share this information both on Twitter following the first reports and in the article posted on our website.

The Hullabaloo urges the Tulane community to provide support for one another and for you to check on those close to you. For anyone in need of help, please contact Student Resources and Support Services on-call line at 504-920-9900 or visit the CAPS office, located in the Science and Engineering Complex and open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

Sincerely,

Dani

Clarification: Many have asked why we reported the student’s name. While our hearts go out to the Rupert family and friends, we felt that omitting his name we are giving power to the stigma associated with suicide, therefore hindering the discussion of suicide, mental health care and the well-being of students on this campus.