“The media usually wants a single answer to a problem,” Prof. Sareen said. “But look – there is nothing yet that has shown us that youth suicide can be easily prevented ... but studies show the risk of contagion is real. So while the media is trying to do a good job, we should think about how if you're a youth and a buddy commits suicide and you see them on the national news and respect that person, you may decide you want to join them.”
Mario Girard, the chief information officer at La Presse, bristles at any suggestion the media should restrict themselves to lofty stories written from a vast distance. His paper recently covered the suicide of a 15-year-old girl and explicitly challenged the popular belief that there was a direct link to bullying that made the case easy to understand.
The girl, who lived in the small town of Ste-Anne-des-Monts, left a note to her mother in which she blamed bullies for her decision. While the girl was certainly tormented, La Presse reporters uncovered details that underscored the fact there are no simple answers when it comes to suicide.
“When our reporters arrived, everyone was talking about bullying,” he said. “It is a very sad story. But there was a lot of other stuff going on with her. She had a boyfriend, there were problems. Our stories turned into very important reflections about bullying ... and that is what our readers are asking us to do.”
Steve Ladurantaye is a reporter for the Report on Business.