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
A suicide case. Oh, nothing new. Same old miserable death. Depressed, couldn’t take it, took her own life.
Since you are here reading my un-pretty blog, you are probably one of the few people who is easily attracted to tragedy, macabre, horrid, gruesome, violent stuff – like me. And I’m betting you have read and heard more than a dozen of suicide cases before, but this woman, Christine, piqued my interest this morning, probably because of the fact that her ‘attempt’ had been straightforward, direct to the point and quite bold.
Christine Chubbuck – an American TV news reporter who shot herself in the head on live TV. While broadcasting. After reading an 8-minute newscast. While waiting for the jammed film reel to run.
Well, not everybody can do that.
She was 29 and if you ask me, she wasn’t bad looking at all. But in nearly all Google results, everybody seems to imply that her suicide was the aftermath of the lack of a romantic involvement. Her brother, Greg, later said that he believed the driving force behind her depression was her lack of relationships. Her 30th birthday was fast approaching, yet she had only been on two dates in her life, neither of which she was able to connect with. It is believed that she had a crush on a co-worker, George Peter Ryan (WXLT-TV), and sought his affection. However, she was hurt when she learned that he was already involved with sports reporter Andrea Kirby. And oh, it is said that Christine was a virgin.
Tragically, Christine’s chosen method was something she learned while writing a piece about suicide. She visited the local sheriff’s department and asked an officer about different methods of committing suicide, and the officer answered all her questions, even telling her the best type of gun to do it with.
So on the morning of July 15, 1974, Christine did something out of her routine. She read a newscast to open the show (Suncoast Digest), something she had never done before; and while reading something about a local restaurant shooting, the film reel jammed.
Now most news reporters would do an adlib to cover up the technical difficulty, Christine however merely shrugged and said on-cam, “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.”
She drew the revolver and shot herself behind her right ear.
Her body fell forward, naturally. Credible sources state that some of the crew thought it was some sort of prank or sick joke. It wasn’t until Christine’s body started twitching that they realized it was in fact, REAL. She had shot herself on national TV, in front of American audience.
The station quickly ran a standard public service announcement and then a movie. Some viewers called the police, while others called the station, inquiring if the incident had been staged, or a sick prank.
Meanwhile, Christine was rushed to the local hospital, where she was pronounced dead 14 hours later.
It gets weirder.
Mike Simmons, TV-40’s news director, later found out that Christine had been reading her newscast contained a complete script of her program, including not only the shooting, but also a third-person account to be read by whatever staff member took over the broadcast after the incident.
She had written something like ‘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.’ – Mike Simmons
She predicted the details quite correctly. She had planned it. She was determined.
Lucky for her, it was 1974. There were no portable cams and videophones that would’ve recorded the incident in an instant. The only tape of the incident was released to Christine’s family, as they had brought an injunction against the TV station to prevent its release.
Tragic. And to think it all boils down to being loveless and her inability to connect with people. She was depressed. I am prone to depression as well, and thought of taking my own life a lot of times, but I am too shit-scared to do it. Or maybe I just easily get over with my frustrations.
I don’t understand depressed people. What I know is, regardless how big or small we think their problem is, it doesn’t matter. It’s not the point. Pain is something they couldn’t live with. Lucky for me, I’m a tad more indestructible. Well not most of the time, but at least my threshold’s pretty intense.