Covering Suicide

90.3 WBHM Birmingham -- It's been one week since Parrish acting police chief Sonny Sorrell committed suicide near a granite memorial to slain police officers in downtown Birmingham. News coverage was full of accounts of the suicide and that of a woman found hanging under a bridge in northern Alabama. Suicide is a very tricky thing for journalists to cover -- and mental health professionals say if it's not covered well a lot of harm can result. In the latest installment of our Making Sense of Mental Health series, reporter Francesca Rosko talks with Lisa Hermes of the Birmingham Crisis Center.

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Jenn Burleson-MacKay knows first hand the difficulty of covering suicide. She teaches reporting classes at the University of Alabama and several years ago, as a reporter in Virginia, she had to cover the suicide of a teenage girl named Galen. The story made national news because a man who sold drugs to Galen was charged with murder.

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-- Francesca Rosko, May 10, 2005


Editor's note: This is our latest piece in a year-long commitment to covering mental health issues in Alabama. You can learn more about our "Making Sense of Mental Health" project and find local mental health resources -- as our commitment continues throughout the year -- inside this website.


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