July 15, 1974
News reporter Christine Chubbuck shoots herself on live TV
Chubbuck’s suicide came just over a month before her 30th birthday, and was allegedly the result of depression exacerbated by a lack of meaningful relationships. Her brother Greg mentioned in an interview, after her suicide, that Christine had been in two serious relationships in the past, though one ended when her boyfriend died in a car crash and another after her antisemitic father pressured her to leave her Jewish boyfriend. Greg also noted that Christine “detested” the “if it bleeds, it leads” style of journalism and wanted to focus more on human interest stories, but was met with resistance from her bosses.
On July 15, Chubbuck deviated from the news script to tell the camera, “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 pulled a revolver, placed it to her head, and pulled the trigger.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter Valerie Ruben, who had worked with Chubbuck and watched the live broadcast, initially believed the suicide to be some sort of prank. Ruben wrote in the Herald-Tribune’s July 16, 1974 edition, Chubbuck’s “very long dark hair blew away from the right side of her head and she fell forward — so violently, I was sure she’d hurt herself in whatever game she was playing.”
Chubbuck was rushed to the local hospital but died of her wound 14 hours later.
In a 2016 interview, Greg Chubbuck told The Sun that his sister’s infamous suicide recording was securely stored away from the public’s eye, and he had obtained an injunction to ensure it would never be released. Despite this, at least one allegedly leaked video has made its way onto the internet: a black and white, grainy segment with distorted audio. This video has received a fair amount of critics attempting to debunk the video, so its authenticity is questionable.
A 2016 Sundance biographical drama entitled Christine leads up to Chubbuck’s suicide, highlighting her growing depression, and includes a reenactment of her televised suicide.
Gordon Galbraith, the News Director at the time of Christine’s suicide, has gone on record calling the convincing video a hoax.