Franklin James Cook

Teen Suicide Show Pulled over Contagion Fear, Injunction

In Media, Prevention on August 9, 2009 at 8:50 pm

A blockbuster television news program, CBS’s 60 Minutes, has been compelled by an organization battling depressive illness, Beyond Blue, to pull a segment that was supposed to have aired Sunday night in Australia. The segment covered the suicide of four teens at the same high school in Geelong, Australia in the past six months, and the organization’s objection to it on concerns about the show contributing to suicide contagion.

According to a story in The Australian,

Beyond Blue chairman Jeff Kennett won an eleventh-hour injunction in the Victorian Supreme Court to block the current affairs program “60 Minutes” from airing a segment on teen suicide at a Geelong high school.

In his affidavit … Mr. Kennett said he was concerned the potential for another suicide at the Geelong high school — where four teenagers have taken their own lives in the past six months — was very high …

In a statement released by 60 Minutes this morning [Monday], the program’s executive producer Hamish Thomson said: “We are extremely disappointed that we were not able to broadcast the story, but we of course fully understand suicide is a deeply sensitive and difficult issue.”

Mr. Thomson said 60 Minutes continued to believe the story should be told.

“60 Minutes has the support of the families involved and has consulted with mental health experts in producing the story,” he said. “We believe our careful and appropriate treatment handles the issue of suicide sensitively, and offers hope to young people in very difficult circumstances.”

The matter is listed to be heard again on Wednesday morning when 60 Minutes will apply to have the injunction lifted.

[The abridged URL for this post is http://tinyurl.com/ShowPulled .]

Related SPNAC post: “Ban of ’60 Minutes’ Stirs Debate on Media-Suicide Link” at http://tinyurl.com/60MinutesBan

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