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Body Found Hanging From a Tree on UTEP Campus – Why No Press Coverage?


When a celebrity commits suicide, there is worldwide coverage of the story. Blogs are written detailing the pain that celebrity was going through and links to suicide prevention are trotted out. But what happens when the person in pain isn’t a celebrity. Local news outlets have a long-standing policy of not reporting on suicides, so the discovery of a body hanging from a tree on the UTEP campus, went unreported. The question is, why is an anonymous person less important than a celebrity?

I’ve written a couple of blogs about Robin Williams this past week. It’s sad to think that someone so who was so beloved could feel so alone, and in a dark moment, decide to end everything. For a long time, the name of Robin Williams will be spoken in hushed reverence, as though we shouldn’t say his name with any joy associated with it because it would be disrespectful. That’s okay, because the shock of his loss is still so fresh.

So, how should we speak of the person who was found Saturday afternoon hanging from a tree in front of the UTEP library? The UTEP police put out a press release that said:

“UTEP police dispatch received a phone call indicating that a body was hanging from a tree in front of the campus library. UTEP PD and emergency crews immediately responded and found the victim was not alive. No foul play is suspected. No other details are available pending notification of next of kin and completion of the investigation.”

The Prospector, UTEP’s student newspaper, wrote a brief story about the incident, but no other news outlet mentioned it. The prevailing wisdom is to report a suicide is to encourage it. That’s nonsense. Chances are, if a person is suicidal, the news of a suicide isn’t going to encourage them. Perhaps that person needs to hear that there is help available. Maybe hearing that they aren’t alone in this world would be the nudge they need to get that help.

I don’t know if any of that is true, but I do know that there was a soul out there on Saturday that was tortured enough to leave this world at their own hand. I think that soul deserves at least a mention of their passing. I also think that we need to let people know once again that there is help out there. People do care about you. If you or a loved one needs help, please call these numbers. There is a way back from the darkness. Let us help turn a light on.

I pray the person who was found on Saturday rests in peace.

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