It's Time To Discuss Suicide
Prevention In The Newsroom

It's Time To Discuss
Suicide Prevention In
The Newsroom

Written by News Gal
🕒 December 17, 2018

Life isn’t always easy.

In fact, sometimes it can be really damn hard. Life in the public eye can make things even tougher, and life in TV news can be downright brutal.

First there’s the pressure. The pressure to look and sound a certain way. The pressure to keep ratings up. The pressure to deliver solid story ideas every day. The pressure of deadlines. The pressure from bosses.

Then there is the criticism.

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A viewer doesn’t like your voice. A viewer thinks you’re too chubby. Your boss doesn’t like your clothing. You criticize yourself, too.

There’s also the loneliness. Many of us in TV news move hundreds or thousands of miles away from our families. We work in cities where we don’t know anyone, and have to try to make friends all over again.

We spend holidays in the newsroom, or alone in small apartments. It’s hard, and it’s frustrating, and it’s dangerous.

Last week, Fox 2 Detroit Meteorologist Jessica Starr died by suicide.

suicide prevention Jessica Starr fox 2 wjbk tv news local newsroom
Screengrab via Fox 2 (WJBK-TV)

I didn’t know her, but I’ve been reading a lot about her. She had children, and a husband. She had a job that so many people would love to have. She seems to have had a loving, supportive family.

On the outside, it looked like she had everything.

Her co-workers described her as “smart, hilarious, and bubbly.” She was good at what a lot of us in TV news are experts at: putting on a facade to make it look like everything is OK.

I have no idea what struggles Jessica was dealing with. I have no idea what was going on in her life, but I do know that there are a lot of heartbroken people who wish they could have done something to help.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

So what can we do now? How can we help? How can we take care of ourselves and our fellow TV News brothers and sisters? I have a few ideas, but I’m sure there are experts out there with a lot more knowledge on this topic.

Here are my suggestions, and please feel free to add yours in the comment section:

1. Check in on people.

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If you notice a co-worker isn’t acting like he or she normally does, ask if they are OK.

Sometimes people are just tired, or dealing with a breakup, but other times it’s something more serious. Let them know you’re here for them and if they want to talk, listen.

2. Be kind.

Stop the gossiping in the newsroom. It almost always gets back to the person. Stop the eye rolls. Stop tearing people down.

All of these little things can add up, and if someone’s already sad and feeling bad about themselves, one simple eyeroll can have a bigger impact than you might imagine.

3. Get professional help.

If you’re worried about someone and they don’t want to talk, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or talk with a doctor. They can help give you advice on other ways to help the person, and someone can intervene if they need to.

4. Throw away the mean letters.

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Toss out the letters. Delete the emails. Block the mean people on social media.

Do not let a mean message from a viewer mess with your head. Do not dwell on the criticism. Read it and move on. Better yet, don’t read it.

5. Decompress.

Has it been a long week? Did a coworker cover a really tragic story? Invite that person to lunch or dinner. Go bowling. Go to the movies.

Do something other than talk about work. Sometimes we see so much tragedy, and get so caught up in work, that we don’t make time to relax, forget about the bad stuff, and smile.

6. Ask for help.

If you are sad, or angry, or feel like your life isn’t important please talk to someone. I don’t care if you have to wake someone up at 3 a.m. to talk about what you’re dealing with, do it. You are important, you are loved, you are worth it.❤️

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  1. It’s way past time to discuss it in every workplace, but I agree a newsroom has its share of challenges. When I was ME, I had two different reporters who had threatened self harm. When word got to me about it, I had long talks with both, and convinced both to to go to a treatment center. Both were admitted for fairly long stays, and both left news shortly after discharge. Last I heard, both were doing well in new careers. I don’t know if news was the reason or not, but I do know that it is incumbent upon everyone to listen to co-workers. If you are not in a position where you feel you can talk to them, talk to someone who is. As a mental health professional told me during one of these instances, if someone is threatening suicide and serious about, they need help. And if someone is threatening suicide and isn’t serious about it, they still need help.

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