Apr 232013

Solidarity Halifax member Jackie Barkley responds to the shallow media analysis of Rehteah Parsons’ tragic story.

As a citizen, a mother, and also a mental health social worker, I have been appalled at the vouyeristic, group think, fact-weak,  narrow, and unthoughtful coverage (print, on-line, radio and television) of the recent tragic suicide of a young woman.

Quantity is not quality.  Banner headlines are not thoughtful coverage of such a nuanced issue.

And the media is not alone in its responsibility.  Our collective public response has been no less led by the same mentality that’s part of the problem.  It’s ironic that the social media that is being partly blamed for such awful suffering, is the same instrument now being used by adults to go viral with threats, mob mentality and  very simplistic conversations about what happened.

There are very complex social, cultural, political, and economic issues involved in the intersection of factors which led to this, and the multiple other sexual assaults and deaths by suicide  – which we face in a culture that has broken the intergenerational teaching by adults toward children and adolescents.

Dealing with this will take time, thoughtful examination of our medicalization of social problems, serious political analysis of contemporary cultural hegemony, and way more that 6 paragraphs and a sound bite.  What we need is some depth, alot of depth, in the public discourse on this question.

Jackie Barkley, MSW, RSW

Originally published as a letter to the editor in The Chronicle Herald.

Note: Articles published by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.




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