The first tragedy that matters, at least

The front page of today’s Irish Daily Mail really irked me quite a bit. I found the declaration that the suicide of Patrick Rocca is the first tragedy of the recession quite insulting. Now I don’t wish to make light of anyone’s suicide, or add to the pain of the families who have to deal with it, but I find it hard to believe that The Daily Mail has investigated every suicide in recent months and concluded this was the first one that was a result of the recession.

I say this with some certainty as a friend of my father, a man very popular in the town I grew up in, hanged himself shortly before Christmas. Of course it’s wrong of me to guess why he did this (there were money issues, but other issues too), but the Mail is equally wrong is this regard, and it seems perverse to me that the death of my dad’s friend can be disregarded so easily. Mr Rocca’s death may have put Ireland’s “business and social elite in shock”, but that doesn’t make it any more important.

There is also the issue of how the way this was reported will affect those close to Patrick Rocca. When I was in college I was told the way to report suicide was to publish the details without including the victim’s name. I believe this is what various suicide agencies ask of the media. Of course this was not possible in Mr Rocca’s case, being the public icon that he was, but I think the Mail could have shown a lot more consideration than to publish the story as a full front-page splash.

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