Suicide is (Allegedly) Painless

Former NHL enforcer Wade Belak became the third hockey tough guy to lose his life this summer.

I’m puzzled by a couple of things. First, why have so many people immediately concluded that it was the hits he took on the ice that led him to hang himself in a Toronto hotel/condo? It might be like flying truck tires, in my view. Sometimes they just happen to occur in clusters. Time might prove me wrong but this head-hit thing is a conclusion some have leapt to awfully quickly with nothing more than a gut feeling to go on.

As a news consumer, does it bother you that I just wrote how Belak killed himself? Or that he killed himself at all? There has been some criticism of media reports that gave those details but I disagree. It’s an obvious question. How did he die? We ask it whether someone was ill or murdered or in an accident. In my view, not wanting to hear about a suicide implies shame on the individual or their family. If a person was depressed there is no shame associated with that. They were ill. Illness essentially led to their death. No one needs to hear what room he was found in or what he was wearing or the type of rope he used. But it’s the first question that would come to mind: how. Am I wrong?

5 thoughts on “Suicide is (Allegedly) Painless”

  1. I think there’s a lot of things the media shouldn’t comment on but how someone died is not one of them. It is something I want to know. Hanging is an unusual choice. Twenty five years ago, my cousin hung himself in the closet, not easy to do. So, I might even want to know where as well as how. But that’s just me.

  2. Yes, I agree that I would like to know how they die. We don’t need to know all of the details. I am very sad that he did not get help before it came to this. Depression is a very difficult thing to deal with and to recognize in some people. I am so sorry for his family. He sounds as though he was such a great guy.

  3. I agree that anyone who hears about an untimely death will want to know how. Perhaps if the reason given to the public for suicidal deaths was simply “mental health issues”, we know the cause, but don’t have to hear how. Then we leave the story with thoughts other than avenging their demise.

  4. I had lunch with a bunch of news ladies today, and the topic of Belak came up. We were discussing whether or not the suicide hanging should be reported if it hasn’t quite been confirmed yet.

    Someone asked, what if it was Erotic asphyxiation? Would the family rather bury that fact, and support the depression hanging instead? Would that be something that would be socially accepted instead of a sexual mishap?

    I’m all for figuring out what happened and sharing it, but only when I know for sure. Because anyone can speculate, but I’d rather go to air with supported facts.

    1. Everyone’s sensitivity is a little different I suppose. And when someone pushes the envelope, others follow. In all-news radio it’s customary to explain a finding and then give an attribution for it. If The Sun is reporting he hanged himself then you say, The Sun is reporting that he hanged himself. And you do it because it’s natural for people to want to know. My stomach was just turned by something I saw on the New York Post’s website that I find far more disturbing: a photo of a dead 20 year old man being pulled from the water. He had drowned trying to retrieve a ball for some kids. I think that photo crosses way over a line that shouldn’t be crossed. But maybe that’s just me.

Comments are closed.