As NPR reports about the crash of a Germanwings passenger jet and the deaths of all 150 people on board, one of the words editors are weighing carefully is "suicide."
Investigators have said they believe co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew the plane into a mountain in the French Alps.
Suicide, Websters New Word College Dictionary says, is the act of "killing oneself intentionally."
But Merriam-Webster elaborates: suicide is "the act of killing yourself because you do not want to continue living." That introduces the idea that the person's state of mind and motivation are important. It strikes us that it's not possible at this point — and may never be — to know what Lubitz was thinking.
Then there's this: As Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said this week, when someone is responsible for so many lives, "it's more than suicide," if Lubitz is to blame for their deaths.
For now, as Weekend Edition Saturday's "word matters" conversation explores, NPR is avoiding the word "suicide" when characterizing what Lubitz is thought to have done. There's more about our reasoning posted here.
Mark Memmott is NPR's standards and practices editor. He co-hosted The Two Way from its launch in May 2009 through April 2014.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/201 ... -the-story
Here is NPR's reasoning for avoiding the word "suicide" in its characterizations of the event.
On The Word ‘Suicide’
We are being careful about the word “suicide” when reporting about the actions of the Germanwings co-pilot. There are at least two reasons not to use it at this time:
– His motivation and state of mind aren’t known (and may never be).
– The investigation into what happened is still in the early stages.
There’s also a case to be made that the word isn’t adequate. As Lufthansa’s chief said, if the co-pilot’s actions were deliberate, “it is more than suicide.”
Regarding what to say instead, previous guidance about avoiding labels makes sense in this case as well.
On Morning Edition, Eleanor Beardsley simply used other action words:
– “Investigators are looking at … clues as to why [Andreas Lubitz] would take 149 people on board to their deaths with him.”
– Investigators told the co-pilot’s family “that their son had deliberately steered his passengers and crew to their deaths.”
In a Newscast, Dave Mattingly put it this way:
– “Investigators say [Andreas] Lubitz deliberately crashed a Germanwings Airbus into the French Alps. … They don’t know why.”
– “Suicide bomber” is a phrase that’s become common usage. But keep in mind that the person with the bomb may have been forced or tricked into carrying out the act. If that appears to have been the case, “suicide bomber” is not accurate. Again, the better course is to simply describe what happened.
– “Committed suicide” is a sensitive phrase that some believe stigmatizes people. They make the case that you “commit” a crime or may be “committed” to an institution, but you do not commit suicide. “Killed himself” and “took her life” are among the alternatives.
(Memmos; March 27, 2015)
http://ethics.npr.org/memos-from-memmot ... d-suicide/
Lubitz did commit suicide and he also committed murder. His words make this act bordering on terrorism as much as the the mind set of radical Islamics; "One day I will do something that will change the whole system, and then all will know my name and remember it."
John Q. Public
This was my original argument...his primary goal was to stage an event for which he would be remembered not to end his life which he knew would be a part of the plan. You are now making my point. Thanks.