Monday, October 14, 2013

Should Journalists Reveal The Name of The Suicidal Student?

On Sunday, a student barricaded himself in his off-campus home. Police believed him to be suicidal.

Because weapons were involved - the student had a gun and fired several rounds, the area surrounding the home was cleared. Students and full-time residents had to leave their homes and were not allowed to return until after 2:00 a.m. Monday morning.

The student was taken to a hospital to be checked out. No charges were immediately filed.

Should journalists publish or air the student's name?

Do the people have a right to know? Shouldn't we know who among us has a weapon and has threatened to use it? Shouldn't we know who caused dozens of area people to be scared and discomforted?

Or should we err on the side of caution? The young man, apparently, is unstable. His was a personal situation and we could further traumatize him. And there is not a huge value in the public knowing after the fact.

What would you do?

25 comments:

Joseph Brandt said...

Given that the man was taken to a hospital, I think he will get some sort of help. I wouldn't say that people have a right to know his name. Though he did have a weapon and used it, he only threatened himself. People are entitled to a right to privacy, and revealing the name of this troubled man would destroy his reputation. If he gets help and sells his gun, why can't he just live his life in peace? There isn't much reason for the public to know now.

ambrose nzams said...

Because of his level of mental health, I suggest that for the time being, his name be left out of the article. The response would not be positive and could lead to further ostracization.

Ashlee Mericle said...

I live across the street from this student. Personally, this affected me because I was locked out of my house for 17 hours. Luckily, I live close by and I was in Jersey during the time of the standoff. I have seen this kid around, but I do think that the police officers should give the people on my street, specifically, the name and photo of this student. There are young kids that leave across the street. Their safety can be in jeopardy. If the guy has a gun, and he has this level of mental health, you don't know what he is capable of.

Tom Dougherty said...

I wouldn't publish his name because he has the right to privacy, he didn't harm anyone and only allegedly threatened himself, and is obviously mentally unstable. Also, you very often read about suicide stories in the news where they do mention the name of the person unless it's a celebrity or public figure. Why would this be any different?

Julianne Johnson said...

I definitely wouldn't have released his name or photo. I simply don't think it's fair to put a name and a face to someone going through something like this, a time where he clearly needs his privacy. He was no threat to the community, only to himself. I agree that it would only cause him future ostracization from the Temple community if he chooses to come back to campus, which is also pretty unfair.

Chris Abruzzo said...

If I were writing this story I would not have released his name. He does have the right to privacy. However, I can also see the other side to this debate. Although he may not have been a threat to the community, the public did not know that at the time. There was a lot of information floating around throughout the day and there was confusion as to what was true or not on what was being released. If I was a neighbor or lived on the same block where this incident took place, I would want to know as much information as possible, including from where the possible danger was coming from. However, if you do include his name in a news story, that could damage his reputation. I agree with what we said in class today that as journalists, we must have a conscience.

Steven Bohnel said...

You can't release that photo without the police or family's permission. However, the question that this really boils down to is, "do we want to hold this kid accountable for what he did"? Eventually, as we discussed, people are going to find out based on court documents. He obviously had mental problems, but is that a cop-out? It's hard to tell. Personally, I'm a big fan of holding people accountable. If the kid did this, he did it himself. The public deserves to know, and the ONLY thing that should prevent them from knowing is either the family or the police using better judgment, which creates an even trickier situation.

Geo said...

Actually, if a photographer snapped a picture of the kid during the crisis, it would have been fair game to use.

Also, a common thing journalists do is get photos of people from friends and relatives. These days, many journalists mine social media networks for images, as well.

All of that would have been usable without permission.

Journalists very easily could have gotten pictures of the young man. They chose not to, as they chose not to release his name.

Not saying it's right or wrong ... just pointing out the legality.

- Geo

(the teacher who has asked many, many people for family photos over the years, usually after tragedies have occurred)

Fletcher Jones said...

I wouldn't release the name. I consider the student as a mentally ill individual. Mental health patients can heal, and if he does, I don't think he deserves to be known in the eyes of some as something he no longer is. Especially considering his age.

Morgan Green said...

As stated in class on Tuesday, this boy is one of our very own. He may chose to continue his academic career at Temple and if his name is released he may feel exposed. He has a right to his privacy as this is a hard time for him. Nobody knows what this student is/ was dealing with, so in his best interest, he should remain anonymous.

Sarah DeSantis said...

I think that the only thing that needs to be brought to the general public's awareness is that there is an armed suspect in the area that has threatened to harm himself. No name needs to be given to warn the people in the surrounding area that might be in potential danger.

Jeanie Davey said...

As a journalist, I would not publish the student's name. Yes, he was a Temple student, and for the sake of the Temple community, some members would argue that they have the right to know who the student was. However, there is also the right to privacy. As a suicide victim, the student was still technically a victim and had his right to privacy.

Jordan Mayo said...

I believe that if the individual is armed, and has a past history of harming oneself or others, people deserve to know what is going on. When people are in danger, they deserve to know what potential danger is out there.

Paige Calter said...

I see the two side of this argument and I honestly think it boils down to if it affected you, or if it didn't. If the boy has a mental health problem and it is being treated, he should be able to live without this affecting him for the rest of his life. But for the students that live around him and that this affected, they should also have the right to know what is going on regarding their safety. Overall though I would say there is no need to air it on television on the news.

Amanda White said...

In my opinion, I do not feel it necessary to release the student's name. The young man had a personal issue and at the end of the day, no one was hurt. The media should respect the student and his family by keeping his personal matters personal. I'm not sure what the purpose of the man's name would do besides end student's curiousty. The incident will soon be forgotten and moved on from. I hope the student will find peace with himself and get better.

Have a great night!

Ashley Portillo said...

To me, I believe releasing the student's name is unethical. Everyone would recognize him as the guy that barricaded himself. His reputation will ultimately be destroyed as a Temple student, and why risk someone's education because of that? Yes, he may have been armed but he did not hurt anyone else in the process. He's getting help and that's what matters now. However, I do think that the surrounding neighbors should have been informed because of their proximity, and they deserve to know the details of this incident.

Savannah Blake said...

We must remember that, although the student had a gun in his possession, he did not harm anyone else with it. It seems that he was only planning on harming himself. As others have stated above, it would be unethical to release the student's name. By making him an outcast, and potentially ruining the rest of his life here at Temple, we would be creating even more of safety risk considering the student's obviously fragile mental state. He needs professional help, not dirty glares and whispers behind his back everywhere he goes.

Greg Frank said...

I don't think it's right to report the name of the student and i think that is disrespecting the privacy of him and his family in a very serious matter. While this is a good story to report and certainly newsworthy, the name is not newsworthy. It's easy to tell people what's going on without revealing the name of the student. In revealing the students name journalists are getting the kid's name out in the world for reasons he may not want.

Casey Yoos said...

I feel that the name of the student should not be released. Given that fact that the student was contiplating suicide, the student obviously has been problems that need to be addressed. Releasing the name of the student would only harm the student's well-being even more. I understand that students who live near the student who had the weapon feel that they deserve to know who the student was, the student who was contemplating suicide has the right to his privacy and did not harm anyone and is awaiting treatment.

Valerie Vaincoeur said...

This was really tough for me to decide on because I was personally one of the people who couldn't get into their apartment. I don't think his name should have been broadcasted specifically for a safety issue. He may have turned out to be even more angry if he knew that everyone knew who he was. I think as a journalist you have to inform the public, specifically the students of this situation but I don't think releasing his name is mandatory.

Marianna Morris said...

No, I don't think his name should have been revealed because it is not like he was a murderer on the loose. He was in a dark place in his life and did not know where to turn. The situation was contained and once he was in custody, he got the help he needed. Releasing his name would have served no other benefit.

Andrew Vanech said...

At the time the incident was happening, the first priority is to verify if anyone else was hurt. Once apprehended and sent to the hospital, where there will be family presence, then I believe as a journalists that its ethical to ask who the person was.

Chengyang Yu said...

I don't think there is necessity to let the audience know the Name. It's the story that matters not the Name. No one will really care the Name!!! We don't know him then why must we know his name???

Suchi Parikh said...

Taking note, that this person wasn't exactly a criminal, yes he did lock himself in his house and he did try and shoot and kill people but he obviously had a personal problem or a mental issue he was going through which was why he was taken to the hospital. Nobody knows the reason as to why he did it so if the reason is too personal to disclose then no his name should be published.

Mariama Mansaray said...

as i have been reading everyone's comment, i noticed that the common idea in everyone's thought is: the kid didn't exactly harm anyone. i agree with this statement, but lets not forget that one don't have to physically harm another for it to be considered "Harm". in my opinion, i think he harmed the public when he barricaded himself in his off-campus home. even though he didn't shoot anyone, he caused a whole neighborhood to be on lock down for like a whole day. he became a threat to society then. i think i would have released the name, because as journalists, we have to keep the public informed of things happening around them. it would have been a different matter if the citizens weren't involved.