Letter from the editor: Why The Spectrum reported on a student's suicide attempt

The Spectrum published a front page news article on April 20 about a UB student who attempted suicide from the seventh floor of Goodyear Hall.

Several students wrote to us, criticizing the article as “unethical,” “insensitive” and a breach of privacy. One student accused us of publishing the article for “shock value.”

As student journalists we work every day to bring the UB campus information our community needs. We take our jobs seriously and work to fill our pages with stories about students and faculty and the messiness of living and learning together while we try to figure out our futures. We work diligently to cover stories we think students care about, are talking about and will help them understand the world.

Last week, one of our peers jumped from the window of a dorm complex that houses close to 1,000 students. He did it at 11:10 a.m., a prime time for student activity and classes. We feel for and with this student and his family. That’s why we didn’t print his name in the paper. We also did not print much of the information we learned about him from students in his dorm. Obviously, he and his family are suffering and deserve privacy, which we gave them.

However, his cry for help occurred in a highly public manner and left dozens of students traumatized. Students were talking about it across campus and rumors had begun.

We see it as our role to help sort fact from fiction and provide students with accurate information, even about tragic events. Our story told students what had happened and included information about counseling available at UB. It also helped direct students to services UB offers.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people our age. Nearly 1,100 college students are projected to kill themselves this year, according to a University of Toledo study. One in twelve of us has a suicide plan.

This student is not the only one suffering. Students need to know that their lives matter and that help is available.

Yes. Talking about it is hard. Reporting about it was tough for our reporters, who are students, too. But if we don’t talk about it, we can never operate as a community.

Hannah Stein is the editor in chief and can be reached at hannah.stein@ubspectrum.com