Christine Chubbuck

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Christine Chubbuck (August 24, 1944 – July 15, 1974) was the host of a morning talk show in Sarasota, Florida. She was also a volunteer at a local hospital. There she gave puppet shows for the mentally handicapped children. She is best known as the television broadcaster who committed suicide during a live television program.

Career[change | change source]

Chubbuck was born in Hudson, Ohio, on 24 August 1944.[1] She grew up in a middle-class family and attended Laurel School for Girls. She went to college at Ohio State University. Then she graduated from Boston University with a degree in broadcasting.[1] She held several jobs with small television stations. In 1973 she was hired by WXLT-TV in Sarasota, Florida as the host of a morning talk show.[1] According to her co-workers she was pretty, easy to get along with and did a good job.[2] According to her mother she wanted a family but had not found the right person to marry yet.[1] In her spare time she held puppet shows for mentally handicapped children at a local hospital.[3]

Death[change | change source]

Three weeks before her death she had received approval to do a program on suicide.[4] On the morning of Monday, July 15, 1974, during her broadcast, Chubbuck read a prepared script. She said: "In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts, and in living color, you are going to see another first, an attempted suicide."[5] Chubbuck then shot herself with a handgun.[5] It was not a quick decision but an event she had planned for months.[a][5] Chubbuck had even joked about shooting herself on the air but nobody had apparently paid much attention.[5] She had been dealing with depression for several years before she died.[3] Chubbuck was 29 years old.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. While Christine Chubbuck clearly planned her death, there is concern that the effects of news stories can trigger imitators to commit suicide also. In a study by Kenneth Bollen and David Phillips in the American Sociological Review the authors determined that her death, although very public, probably did not cause many imitators.[6] They also found the average time an imitator might act was a week to ten days after a news story.[6]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Sally Quinn, 'Christine Chubbuck: 29, Good-Looking, Educated, A Television Personality. Dead. Live and in Color', The Washington Post, Washington, DC (Aug 4, 1974), pp. F1–F3
  2. Steven Payne, Carrying the Torch (Dartford, U.K.: Xlibris Publishing Company, 2011), p. 13
  3. 3.0 3.1 Steven Payne, Carrying the Torch (Dartford, U.K.: Xlibris Publishing Company, 2011), p. 14
  4. Cynthia Ceilán, Thinning the Herd: Tales of the Weirdly Departed (Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2008), p. 36
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Thomas E. Joiner, Myths about Suicide (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), p. 81
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kenneth A. Bollen and David P. Phillips, 'Imitative Suicides: A National Study of the Effects of Television News Stories', American Sociological Review, Vol. 47, No. 6 (Dec., 1982), p. 804

Other websites[change | change source]