The coverage about Marcus Wheeler and Madison Holleran, in my view at least, was primarily fact driven. Dealing in fact space is certainly safe. However when we glamorize suicide by giving it national headlines in the press, depressed people craving attention might view it as a way to get attention. I happen to know from other people that Marcus had run the suicide thing up the flag pole multiple times before, and even today one of his classmates responded to his tweet (see article on Milesplit) "Did you do it this time or did you b*%ch out again?" While no one will ever know for sure, reading Marcus twitter account it seemed he craved attention and had for some time.
Now I understand one can't entirely ignore suicides either. However, what if instead of dealing in fact space articles focused more on hope? A local coach told me to tell kids they can talk to their coaches, parents, school counselors or other trained professionals. He also thought we should remind coaches to tell their athletes that message as well. Both of us agreed ESPN's piece on Madison did a reasonably good job at that, "its OK to not be OK." That article doesn't glamorize suicide as much, and it sends a message of hope. I recall similar frustrations with Robin Williams death, so I know I am a little counter cultural here.
Run it up the flagpole? Craved attention?
For Christ's sake, he wasn't a Kardashian-esque celebutante attention seeker. He was a freakin 18 year old kid crying out for help.
Unfortunately, in our current selfie-obsessed/"hey everyone, look at me"/everyone's a star culture, real cries for help like his are prone to not even registering on our collective radar.
I'm not suggesting the current state of affairs are anyone's fault, but it's sad as hell that it's desensitized us to a point of taking only casual notice of a young man's pleas to be rescued from himself.
A young promising life cut short seems to offer no upside. I can only pray that his life (and death) may not totally be in vain, and that his story may help at least one parent/friend/teacher recognize warning signs in a similarly-troubled person and save them from a similar fate.
Rest in peace Marcus.