Christine Chubbuck (partially found on-air suicide footage of television news reporter; 1974)

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The late Christine Chubbuck.

On July 14, 1974, talk show host Christine Chubbuck was set to air her morning program, Suncoast Digest on Channel 40 (WWSB, formerly known as WXLT-TV). She confused staff by stating that she had to recite a newscast first, something that she never normally did before her program. The first 8 minutes of the newscast went ahead with complete normalcy, until Chubbuck reported on a story that had happened the previous day; a shooting at a local restaurant.

When the news footage queued to play jammed and didn't run, Chubbuck (who we now know was suffering heavily from depression) nonchalantly turned to the camera and said "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".[1] She drew a revolver, shot herself behind the right ear, and fell forward violently, at which point the camera faded quickly to black.

Many people who saw the live broadcast rang both the station and the police, many weren't sure if it was a morbid joke, or if it had actually happened. Some of the WXLT-TV staff even doubted its legitimacy at first. After Chubbuck was rushed to Sarasota Memorial Hospital hospital, news director Mike Simmons discovered that the papers from which she had been reading her broadcast contained a followup story, written herself, describing her suicide attempt. The followup story read something to the effect of "TV 40 news personality Christine Chubbuck shot herself in a live broadcast this morning on a Channel 40 talk program. She was rushed to Sarasota Memorial Hospital", (which she had accurately predicted), "where she remains in critical condition". Chubbuck was pronounced dead the day after. The network's master tape was subsequently seized as evidence by authorities, and was eventually returned to Chubbuck's family, who are said to have destroyed it.

As the broadcast aired in 1974, and several primitive forms of videocassette recorders were released in the early 1970s (such as the U-matic, which came out in 1971), it is entirely possible (albeit unlikely) that another recording exists elsewhere, although until proof of such a recording is unearthed, the video is generally accepted as being impossible to obtain. Having said that, there are some people who claim to have seen the footage via a variety of sources including early internet sites, FBI training videos, and Faces of Death knock-offs;[2] however, until any solid proof surfaces, these claims remain nothing more than hearsay.

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