By Fred Vallance-Jones
Suicide is an extremely difficult subject for journalists, and this story was no exception.
Most often, suicides are not reported because of concern that reporting them may spawn copycat attempts. It is also seen as an extraordinarily private tragedy, and families often do not wish to have it discussed publicly.
But suicide affects many more people than most of us probably know. I attended a funeral last year for a young person who had taken her own life, and this brought home to me the horrible reality of this silent scourge. It is extremely difficult for families to cope, both because of the disbelief, but also because they so often wonder if things might have turned out differently, if only…
We feel it is important to tell this story, to raise awareness of the extent of this problem, and we hope, to encourage more efforts to enhance the community services that can help save lives.
In telling this story, we knew that the Convey family was entrusting us with something precious, their most personal feelings about a great tragedy that they have been living with since Patrick died. We hope that by sharing their story, our readers can understand more deeply the meaning of the numbers.
The accompanying story does not tell everything about what happened. In particular, we are not including anything about the way Patrick died. We are doing this after carefully considering both the story we ended up telling, and the media guidelines for reporting suicide developed by the Canadian Psychiatric Association. On other occasions, the way someone killed him or herself might be very relevant and important to report. But in this case, and given the facts we were able to report, I felt the balance tipped in favour of not including this detail. We are also not publishing Patrick’s photograph, again because the guidelines suggest this can contribute to copycat attempts.
I would like to thank the Convey family for sharing their story and hope that this outstanding effort by my students will help contribute to an important dialogue that needs to happen in our community.