Governance of Content on Political Suicide in Times of Financial Crisis

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 23 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Izabela KORBIEL, Vienna University, Austria
Katharine SARIKAKIS, Vienna University, Austria
According to Durkheim,at particular moments, every society has  a certain tendency to suicide. Social factors i.e. transformation processes and social disruptions are alone responsible for people’s suicide. If a person is strongly integrated in society, s/he is not in risk of suicide. Crisis, in turn, destroys social stability and disintegrates society; this disintegration leads to increased number of suicides.A number of self – immolations in Bulgaria or a pensioner shooting himself in front of the Greek Parliament are some recent and widely media covered examples of suicides in the Europe of crisis.What does ‘responsible media reporting’ promoted by the World Health Organisation mean in times of financial crisis under given circumstances? According to the law, with very few exceptions, coverage of suicide is legal but as health professionals argue, it is not necessarily legitimate.

What we know about the act of suicide and the ways in which media are regulated to report on it has been largely based on studies and contexts of relative financial and political stability. If we approach suicide as a political act in the case of crisis, as one that constitutes an ultimate way of protest, then the question is raised, whether the codes and regulatory frameworks governing its coverage are sufficient and appropriate.  Through this extreme means of communication, individuals act to protest and to demonstrate the condition of the society, automatically denying their possibility to speak out in the future. 

In this paper the process of suicide as political act and as an act of silencing is discussed from a media governance perspective with emphasis on media ethics and their insufficient regulatory effect. From the point of view of the public right to know, this paper analyses the interventional practice of dismissing the social dimension of the phenomenon and limiting it to individual acts without political implications.