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Robin Williams’ death: Graphic details of suicide prompts outrage, copycat risk

Jaws dropped as the graphic details surrounding Robin Williams’ death just kept coming at a press conference by the Marin County Sheriff’s office. In this case the detailed information on the death scene at Williams’ home was just too much for many, who were outraged by the family’s violation of privacy, according to USA Today on Aug. 13.

Robin Williams graphic details of death released: Too much for many to hear.
Photo by Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images

The Sheriff’s office not only released that Williams was found hanging in his bedroom, they went on to say just what that scene looked like. They said that Williams’ was suspended in a slightly seated position and he had a belt around his neck, with one end of the belt wedged between the door frame of a closet.

This is considered private information by most people and it is hard for folks to imagine that the Williams’ family would want this information made public. The graphic descriptions continue today with the newest reveal of a pocket knife being found near Williams’ body. Even Fox News warned their readers in the article that the information was graphic when they reported on Williams' death scene.

The knife is what he used to cut his wrists, as it was reported earlier that Williams had superficial cuts on him. These were the cuts they first talked about and police said that he apparently tried to cut his wrists first, reports Fox News live on Wednesday morning.

One of the biggest concerns about all these graphic details released on Williams' suicide scene is that this is glorifying the act of suicide. This runs a risk that copycats will follow, conveys Al Tompkins, of the media watchdog Poynter. He said:

"Suicide experts say graphic details about the exact cause of death — the details of the death particularly when they involve a celebrity — are more likely to have the 'contagion affect,'" Tompkins said, "which can breed copycats."

While the media has revealed how Williams did this, the answer as to why he did this may never be known, suggests ABC News today. The latest rumors that he was broke are now being called false. It would be hard to believe that a man who had such a successful career had nothing left to show for it.

Twitter users expressed their dismay that all this graphic information on Williams’ death was not necessary.

@rachelslar wrote: “Wow. Was not expecting this level of detail in the Robin Williams press conference. Why does the world need to know this??”

@ananavarro wrote: “Wish press wasn't going into details of Robin Williams' death. Let's remember him as a humble, noble man who shared his talent w/world.”

The chief coroner investigator with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Department, Craig Harvey, said that this is public information in California. It is the law that this information be made available to the public. If the media chooses not to report it, that’s their business, but the coroner’s office is legally bound to have this information readily available for the public.

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