Media Single Out Gay Bullying in Reporting Teen Suicides

Whether its laziness or the intentional furthering of a leftwing agenda, the facts remain: The media continue to promulgate the link between gay teen bullying and suicide among teens, failing to highlight other leading causes.

Forbes.com reported that on October 19, Facebook announced it has joined with MTV and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in a “Network of Support” to combat gay cyber-bulling. This comes after more than three weeks of nation-wide stories highlighting the death of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers student who took his own life after learning his sexual encounter with another male was broadcast over the internet.

> Because suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15-24, it is vital that the media accurately report on the issue with sensitivity, and comprehension. Depression, parental divorce, death of a loved one, and alcohol and drug abuse, are leading causes for teen suicide. While homosexual bullying has taken the spotlight recently, tragic as it is, it’s only one reason and not a major contributor to the overall number of teen suicides.

In three news articles found on cbsnews.com, abcnews.com, and msnbc.com about gay bullying and teen suicides, there was not one mention other teen suicide risk factors.

“The emphasis on bullying is both good and bad,” Thomas Joiner, a clinical psychologist and Florida State University suicide researcher told the Houston Chronicle. “The good part is: It's a public health problem that causes a lot of problems … The bad part, though, is that it encourages our tendency – which we already have – to think simplistically about suicide as if bullying caused that. Well, it was one factor. Keep in mind 33,000 of our fellow Americans are dead this year from suicide. Very few of them were bullied.”

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention encourages the media to report suicides in a respectful and straight-forward manner. “Research has shown that graphic, sensationalized or romanticized descriptions of suicide deaths in the news media can contribute to suicide contagion, popularly referred to as ‘copycat’ suicides. Media reports on suicide can also be a source of misinformation; for example, when suicide is attributed in a single event such as the loss of a job or a relationship, with no mention of underlying factors such as the individual’s depression, substance abuse, or lack of access to treatment for these conditions.”