In 1974, a newswoman shocked the viewers of the local WXLT-TV Florida with what began as a human interest report on suicide, but ended up being more of an insight into the woman on the screen. It was her frustration with her job that was a major influence on Paddy Chayefsky”s script for the movie Network. It was her frustration with herself that forced herself to take her own life.
Christine was born in Hudson, Ohio in 1944 and grew up outside of Cleveland. While in school, she started a humorously bent social group by the name of the “Dateless Wonder Club.”
Chubbuck struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts all of her life. In 1970 she attempted to overdose on medication. A lot of her depression appeared to stem from her lack of a love life. She lamented to her co-workers during a birthday that she was almost 30 and was still a virgin. She had only been on a date with a man two times in her life.
Chubbuck had an unrequited crush on fellow WXLT-TV reporter, George Peter Ryan, even baking him a cake on his birthday, but she grew depressed when it was revealed he was involved with her friend Andrea Kirby. She had been told a year earlier after ovary surgery that if she did not become pregnant in two or three years, she would never conceive.
The “Story” On Suicide.
Chubbuck asked the news director if she could do a report on suicide for her morning talk show program, “Suncoast Digest.” She went to the local sheriff”s department to ask some questions about suicide. It was there that she learned a .38 caliber to the head was the most efficient way to kill oneself. A week before her suicide, she had joked with her director that she had bought a gun and intended to kill herself on air.
Dead. Live And In Color.
On July 15, 1974 Christine Chubbuck began her talk show at the anchors desk, which was not standard for her program. After reporting on a local shooting she nervously said “In keeping with Channel 40s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts … and in living color. You are going to see another firstattempted suicide.” She pulled the .38 caliber out from under the desk and shot herself behind the ear. The director desperately faded to black.
As we”ve seen with the recent suicide of Robin Williams, no matter how talented or brilliant a person is, depression is very real. It”s a shame that Christine Chubbock could not find the help she needed before it was too late.