How the English and Americans Portrayed the News of Kate Spade’s Suicide

Actor-comedian David Spade helps family members enter Our Lady of Perpetual Help Redemptorist Catholic Church for funeral services for his sister-in-law, designer Kate Spade, in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, June 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

By Anne Huang

Notable American designer Kate Spade was found dead in her Manhattan apartment, supposedly suicide by hanging. 55 years of age, the news shocked the entire fashion industry. An insider disclosed that Kate Spade hanged herself using a red scarf in her bedroom after leaving behind only a death note, and apparently, the incident may have involved family and marriage problems. However, many of this information was distributed by The New York Times and Washington Post in the American news media. But another British media platform The Guardian never discussed any details of Kate Spade’s suicide and well as suicide cause.

The British have been always infamous for being the most “bland” media group, often criticized for their paparazzi leaking information as well as copying off other media news company works. But one thing that should be positively recognized by the British news media is their moral respect in their news, especially news regarding the topic of suicide.

In the recent years, the British media had an agreement to not give out detailed information regarding any suicides. They would also always make sure to include in suicide news a reminder against the action of suicide and how people can seek help regarding this problem. This, unfortunately, is not a habit within the US media and is none-prominent in their news. They would not hold back to make elaborated articles and news on a news as big as suicide.

A group of schoolchildren read signs posted in the dense woods of the Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mount Fuji Thursday, Oct. 22, 1998. The sprawling forest, a favorite among day-trippers from Tokyo, is also one of the country s most popular destinations for the suicidal – and growing more popular. This year a record 58 bodies have already been found and authorities expect the 1998 total to top 70. Officials attribute the surge to the economic slump as Japan weathers its worst recession in decades. The sign at right reads: “Your life is a precious gift from your parents. Once again, try to remember your parents, brothers and sisters and think about your children.” (AP Photo/Atsushi Tsukada)

Of course, that does not mean the British news is much better than the US because of this reason. This change was very recent, only about a decade ago was this agreement made within the English media. In 2006, multiple British news companies published detailed photos of a woman jumping off a building and committing suicide. Afterwards, the Samaritans started complaining to the news media of how disrespectable and gruesome it is to have no filter and so willing to give out so many details on such a tragic event and subject. It was this that mad the English government realized that this is not right, and they announce dhow from then on, media should always avoid using detail description and information regarding the suicide.

Even when this request is not a law and not completely obligated, the British media were surprisingly cooperative. It had become an unspoken rule, and many media followed it in the future regarding anything that related to suicide, especially real suicide incidents.

There was another incident that made this unspoken rule in media industry filmer. , two years after that change in 2006, a teenager committed suicide in a small town called Bridgend in Wales. The local reporter pointed how the strangeness of this situation, stating how the average statistics of younger people committing suicide in this area were 2 to 3, but suddenly within two years, the number has risen to 25. They soon realized that by widely publicizing suicide events, the people of that age group, especially the younger age groups somehow would more likely follow their examples, leading to higher suicide rates.

This incident sparked discussion with many researchers believing that by heavily publicizing and making aware of suicides in this light, it does contribute in increasing suicide rates because it would (consciously or unconsciously) plant this possibility in their heads. This again showed how the British media should keep this subject more toned down in order to bring a few attentions to this subject as possible, in hopes to reduce the possibilities of their news becoming an “example” for other people to commit suicide as well.

Another example in the US to prove this point was how the suicide rate in America rose by a whopping 12% after actor Robin Williams unexpected suicide in 2014. Many people in the medical industry concluded that there is no way to have a magical “cure” to stop people from committing suicide. However, if suicide is truly some sort of virus, the best way to prevent it is to have media to stop spreading it as much by heavily promoting news relating to it.