ertain News channels that report live have quite a huge following that wants to hear what are the latest news. A lot of viewers expect to hear about gruesome crimes or in some cases, suicides. What no viewer would expect is to see a live suicide performed by the report. The only recorded and known Live TV suicide in history took place in 1974, performed by American news reported Christine Chubbuck.
Christine Chubbuck was 29 years old in 1974, lived in sunny Sarasota, Florida, and worked as a news reporter for WXLT-TV. Chubbuck had been dealing with melancholy and suicidal thoughts for years at that time in her life. She even attempted a pill overdose in 1970. Christine’s family was aware of her suicidal tendencies, but her mother chose not to inform WXLT management of her daughter’s condition for fear of losing her job. Chubbuck’s sadness was caused by her personal life, not her job or income.
Christine struggled to connect with others and build deep, meaningful relationships. She was 29 years old and had no close friends, boyfriend, husband, or children. Her first love was killed in a vehicle accident, and she then had another romance that ended because her boyfriend was Jewish and her father disapproved of him.
Furthermore, Chubbuck’s right ovary was removed one year before her suicide, and she was advised she only had 2-3 years to get pregnant because it would be nearly impossible to conceive later. Making matters worse, her crush on coworker George Peter Ryan was only one-sided. Christine was very critical of herself and refused to accept praise.
One week before she ended her life, Chubbuck told Rob Smith, the night news editor, that she had bought a gun. “Well, I thought it would be a nifty idea if I went on the air live and just blew myself away,” she jokingly said before Smith changed the topic. A few days later, Christine said to her brother: “I’m thinking about killing myself, and I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do.”
She even tried different types of therapy before committing suicide, but as history shows none of them worked. It is also strange as she left no notes or a diary describing why she committed suicide. As most cases, people say that it was due to depression, but the cause of her depression is not exact.
July 15, 1974
For no particular reason, she chose July 15, 1974. Chubbuck came at work at 9 a.m. after having coffee with her mother. Her coworkers later commented on her abnormally pleasant mood. Chubbuck was the host of “Suncoast Digest,” a community affairs talk program, and he usually got right into it, but not on this particular day.
She asked and was granted permission to report on a couple of major news stories as well as a local bar shooting. Christine then faced the camera, delivered her terrible final words, reached behind her desk for a.38 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, and shot herself behind the right ear.
Here is the original footage of her Live Suicide.
“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 — attempted suicide.”Christine Chubbuck
Chubbuck stumbled forward, collapsing on the floor after collapsing on the desk with her head. WXLT-astonished TV’s crew darkened out the screen and ran a movie. Viewers who witnessed the horrible incident summoned an ambulance, and Christine was brought to the hospital.
Mike Simmons, the news director, discovered a report Christine authored on her own condition among Chubbuck’s blood-stained documents. It said:
“TV 40 news personality Christine Chubbuck shot herself in a live broadcast this morning on a Channel 40 talk program. She was rushed to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where she remains in critical condition.”Christine Chubbuck
While doctors were trying to save Chubbuck’s life at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital, her mother said the following to a reporter:
“She was terribly, terribly, terribly depressed. She had a job that she loved. She said constantly that if it ended tomorrow she would still be glad she had had it. But she had nothing else in her social life. No close friends, no romantic attachments or prospects of any. She was a spinster at 29 and it bothered her.
She couldn’t register with people. That’s the main thing. She was very sensitive and she tried and she would reach out, you know. ‘Hi, how are you, won’t you come have a cup of coffee with me,’ and you say ‘no,’ but you don’t say ‘Won’t you come have a cup of coffee with me,’ that sort of thing, in her personal relationships, and it really got to her.
She’d been very depressed. She’d been seeing a psychiatrist who really didn’t feel that she was that serious about not wanting to live. She felt if you’ve tried as hard as you can, you’ve prepared yourself, you work hard, you reach your hand out to people and nobody takes it, then there’s something wrong with your drumbeat, and she really felt she couldn’t register with anyone except her family. And at 29, that’s sad.”
Christine Chubbuck died 14 hours after being admitted to the hospital. Her ashes were strewn in the Gulf of Mexico after her corpse was cremated. This was the first time in modern history at least that people understood that depression is not a joke and should be treated very much as a serious mental illness. Hearing about suicide is one thing, seeing it played by an actor in a movie may awaken some emotions, but seeing a real-life suicide on TV is a whole different story.