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A little bit of compassion can go a long way


The recent suicide of a Brookings teenager has had a profound impact on many in our small community. However, you won’t learn the details of this tragic event in this newspaper.

Reporting suicides in the paper is a touchy issue. Is a suicide a tragedy? Certainly. Is it news? That depends.

The Pilot’s suicide policy states:

“In most cases, suicides are personal family tragedies that do not warrant routine coverage. Suicides will be covered only when the victim is a noteworthy person in the community, when the suicide takes place in a public location or in a location where people outside the family have discovered the body or when the suicide raises issues of significant public interest.”

The Pilot has a responsibility to report the news, no matter how grim it may be. But newspaper reports should neither sensationalize nor normalize suicide. We must use care and caution when deciding whether to report it and, in this case, consider the impact doing so will have on the surviving family members, friends and acquaintances. 

In the absence of information about this young woman’s death, rumors are rampant. That, in itself, is no surprise. And we certainly won’t repeat the rumors here.

What we will say is, according to current research, that in many cases of suicide it isn’t one particular issue or incident that spurs one to take his or her life. It’s not that simple. 

We won’t try to explain why this young woman, or any person for that matter, chose to end their life. For some, there will never be a satisfying explantation.

If anything, we can use this tragedy as a reminder to stop our busy lives long enough to check in with our fellow human beings and, if needed, offer assistance, comfort, sympathy and love.

Sometimes that can make all the difference in this world.



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