Suicide On-Air?

photo of radio pictures
A radio station in Dublin, Ireland hosts a nightly program where callers can ask questions and talk to the DJ. A caller rang FM104 Phoneshow , identified himself as “Jay” and told the station we was standing on the ledge of a bridge with a knife about to kill himself and he wanted to speak to the host, Jeremy Dixon. The phone screener informed Dixon of the situation and Dixon and the station decided to put the call through in the hopes that Dixon could talk the man down.

The Irish police and the man’s parents were called to the scene, traffic was halted and a very emotional Dixon tried calming down “Jay”. “I’m not qualified to deal with this,” Dixon said while on-air dealing with this intense situation. The caller eventually hung up, and around midnight he was talked down from the bridge. The whole incident got #104FM trending on Twitter with people weighing in on what had happened. Some were calling the airing of this call “distasteful and voyeuristic” others were on the side of the station.

People tweeted that this caller had pulled this stunt, on the same bridge four times last month and that the radio station had done nothing to halt his actions. Dixon tweeted that he was “completely drained” after the call and said the next morning that the station had “no other way to deal with the call but to air it”:

He wanted to talk to FM104. He didn’t ring anybody else, he didn’t ring his family, he rang FM104. … When someone rings and they feel as desperate and that, there is only one thing to do and that is to talk to them. … Hopefully it has worked.

This explanation has done little to put of the fires on social media with one person tweeting:

Patrick Abbott@patrickabbott

This smacks of what happened recently to those crank call radio DJs in Australia and the nurse in the UK. No lessons learned#fm104

And the other side of the argument:

erin large@erinmollylarge

#fm104 had NO choice in broadcasting that call. They risked their license for it. He threatened suicide if they didn’t! WHAT WOULD YOU DO?!

The station has said that after the incident that its staff would receive training for how to respond to suicidal behavior. Where do you stand on this? Should FM104 have aired the call?



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India Has Problems

India has been in the news lately. In part, for gang-rape (which, as you may have noticed, is a horrific evil on which India does not have a monopoly). A seventeen-year-old girl in India killed herself after she was gang-raped and failed by her law enforcement community. A twenty-three-year-old Indian woman (a medical student) was raped in front of her boyfriend and left in critical condition.

I suggest that you read this post on HelloGiggles (which is an excellent site, by the way, and often covers topics a lot less upsetting than this one). Among other things, it details the struggle that the teenage girl underwent in attempting to file her complaint with the police. Being sexually assaulted is horrible—and that horror should not be compounded by police who try to convince the young woman who survived the assault to drop the charges or to possibly marry one of her attackers. Her attackers were only detained after she specifically named them in her suicide note. Barring the most dreadful of illnesses, I would never counsel suicide as the better option, but I can understand why she did it.

India has more problems than that—and, honestly, nightmarishly high levels of incidents of violence against women should be enough of a problem for any country. I think that a lot of us have read about villages and other local governments in India in which unmarried women are being forbidden from using mobile phones. “Reasons” (using the word reason loosely, here) range from that they might form their own, independent social connections to simply that mobile phone use will “spoil” them. It is disgusting.

Online communication through computers, whether they sit on our desks or we carry them in our pockets, are opening up isolated communities, helping to advance peoples’ educations, and gradually transforming the entire world into one community out of many. It is wonderful. But that is also frightening to some more conservative individuals who believe that too much freedom for younger generations will erode their culture. Honestly, it will. It happens in the US. Sometimes, the internet and television can help a closeted fourteen-year-old boy in rural Alabama …

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Tony Scott Was More Than Just His Suicide

photo of tony scott pictures
Tony Scott directed one of my all time favorite films, True Romance. I think that it is a perfect movie and it has warped my sense of romantic love forever. I even have blue cowboy boots and sunglasses like the film’s star, Alabama. When I heard he passed away, I was pretty upset. I try to not get emotional over things that don’t directly involve me, but Tony Scott’s death got to me.

Two weeks after Tony Scott took his own life, I went and saw True Romance at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. It was my first time going to Cinespia (which is the film series that took place at the cemetery). I wore my boots and sunglasses and could barely contain my excitement. Before the movie started, Donna Scott spoke. She told stories of Tony, of the making of the film and read a quote from the film that someone had emailed her. They said it was the perfect description of Tony:

Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool. And sometimes Clarence asks me what I would have done if he had died, if that bullet had been two inches more to the left. To this, I always smile, as if I’m not going to satisfy him with a response. But I always do. I tell him of how I would want to die, but that the anguish and the want of death would fade like the stars at dawn.

She kept an even voice until that last line—at “I tell him of how I would want to die, but that the anguish and the want of death would fade like the stars at dawn” , her voice broke and so did my heart.

After the movie, Patricia Arquette spoke and I fan-girled out. The last thing she said was, “And Donna, if you’re still here, I remember being at a party and Tony came over to me. He pointed to you, you had all these people around you and he said, ‘Look at her, they’re like bees to honey… and I get to love her.” She cried through saying that.

When it was reported that Tony Scott had jumped off a bridge, taking his own life, rumors swirled. They said he had a brain tumor, they said no one saw it coming, they said there was no note, and then there were several. Recently, toxicology reports were released that found sleeping pills and anti-depressants in his system. These things shouldn’t be shocking. These things also shouldn’t be public knowledge.

I have personal experience with suicide; too much experience. It’s damaging in ways you can’t imagine until you’re in it. The point of this article is to remind people that Tony Scott, while an amazing director and well-known celebrity … was also a husband, a father, and a friend. He’s not a toxicology report; he’s not just a suicide statistic.

Let’s try to keep that in mind as we watch the next celebrity “train wreck”. Instead of watching and reading and wondering what caused their demise, maybe, just maybe, we can practice kindness, and maybe that kindness will spread, and someone will realize that in darkness there is light. Maybe that day they won’t go to the bridge, maybe that day no one will speak of memories of them, maybe no one’s voice will crack at the telling of a good time. Maybe things will change.



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Male Killers More Overt, But No Crueler Than Females

Scales with Men and Women

The recent movie theater massacre in Aurora shocked the country.  On some level, it did to movie-going what 9/11 did to flying—essentially, took away the innocence of what had hitherto been a common, everyday occurrence.

And, predictably, in the face of world-rocking disasters set into place by humans, the situation has been parsed on many levels.  Who was this James Holmes?  Why did he go with “The Joker”?  What could happen to cause a doctoral student to run amok?  What does this mean to the gun-control pissing contest?  Did Holmes’ psychiatrist have an obligation to alert authorities as to his profoundly violent tendencies?

I found myself most intrigued by a piece from Erika Christakis, an administrator at Harvard University, positing that mass murder has a tendency to be … well, a male-dominated club.  While Christakis admits that it’s not like women never kill (and there’s the odd female serial killer that’s floated through history), it’s an inarguable fact that the most shocking acts of violence, including but not limited to mass murder, have been “overwhelmingly perpetrated by men”.

In fact, Christakis goes so far as to say throw out there that “our silence about the huge gender disparity of such violence may be costing lives.”

Hmm …

From Time:

Imagine for a moment if a deadly disease disproportionately affected men. Not a disease like prostate cancer that can only affect men, but a condition prevalent in the general population that was vastly more likely to strike men. Violence is such a condition: men are nine to 10 times more likely to commit homicide and more likely to be its victims. The numbers are sobering when we look at young men. In the U.S., for example, young white males (between ages 14 and 24) represent only 6% of the population, yet commit almost 17% of the murders. For young black males, the numbers are even more alarming (1.2% of the population accounting for 27% of all homicides). Together, these two groups of young men make up just 7% of the population and 45% of the homicides. And, overall, 90% of all violent offenders are male, as are nearly 80% of the victims.

A lot of my teacher friends and colleagues and I have a theory on fighting that goes on in schools—basically, if girls get into a fight, it’s forever.  Oh, they may smile and “make up”, but both sides (and their legions of friends) will never forget the situation.  It gets dragged up repeatedly, often into adulthood.  Boys get pissed at each other, beat the shit out of each other, and have basically forgotten the whole thing within a month and often become friends.

As this has always been my attitude, I found those statistics troubling, to say …

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