Mental health and the media: when privacy trumps getting the story | Andrew Stafford

13/08/2017 Andrew Stafford 0

At what point, when the initial story is over, do news outlets and social media need to continue to stalk, hound and dig for every tiny detail?

For five days over late August and early September in 2016, a strange case gripped the Australian media. A family of five abruptly went missing from their rural property east of Melbourne. They left their house unlocked and all potential trace elements behind: phones, credit cards and identification documents. Keys were left in the ignitions of the remaining cars.

The alarm was sounded by one of the three adult children, about 24 hours after their disappearance, when he disembarked from what turned out to be an ill-fated road trip near Bathurst in central New South Wales, about 800km from their home. The two remaining daughters were quickly located after they stole a vehicle to escape; one of them later turned up in the back of a man’s ute – to the shock of the driver. Their mother was found the following day, wandering the streets of Yass, near Canberra; two days later, the father was discovered, safe but dehydrated, on the outskirts of the north-eastern Victorian town of Wangaratta.

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OMG, can we please talk about the [name withheld] family mystery? Someone needs to call Sarah Koenig, seriously, this is the weirdest story. Can Sarah Koenig please make season three of Serial about this?

I, for one, would prefer multiple skull fractures to the feeling of deep clinical depression

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On reading the article or book in question, he has to face the fact that the journalist – who seemed so friendly and sympathetic, so keen to understand him fully, so remarkably attuned to his vision of things – never had the slightest intention of collaborating with him on his story but always intended to write a story of his own.

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