Christine Chubbuck: Her Live TV Suicide And Everything That Led Up To It

By | January 23, 2021

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WVIZ, WTOG, and WXLT-TV reporter Christine Chubbuck in 1974, two weeks before her death. (John Cloud/Wikimedia Commons)

It was an sunny summer day in Sarasota, Florida when a seemingly ordinary daytime local news segment took a dark and horrific turn as the young news anchor, Christine Chubbuck, suddenly pulled out a gun from beneath her desk and shot herself in the head on live television. As shocking as it was, Chubbuck's suicide didn't stay in the headlines for long in crime-ridden 1970s America, but decades later, the internet revived Chubbuck's gruesome story as the hunt for the much-sought video of her suicide became a morbid fascination within the darker corners of the worldwide web.

Chubbuck's Early Life

Chubbuck had a seemingly ordinary upbringing in Ohio with her parents and two brothers. She earned a degree in broadcast journalism from Boston University in 1965 and worked her way up through different networks before finally landing her own show on WXLT, the local ABC affiliate of Sarasota. Chubbuck's greatest passion in her life was her show, which she hoped to use as a platform for everyday small business owners while also shedding light on the underserved members of the community, particularly those suffering from addiction.  

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Boston University, 1975. (City of Boston Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

A Lonely Life

Chubbuck's passion for her work seemed to leave little time for her personal life, however. While she was very close to her family, Chubbuck never appeared to have many friends or romantic interests, though she was no doubt aware of the cultural pressure on women in the '70s to focus their lives on other people. She was part of the the "Dateless Wonder Club" in high school for girls who didn't have dates on the weekend, and even her own mother referred to the 29-year-old as a "spinster" in the aftermath of her death.

Still, Chubbuck seemed unable to connect with people outside of work. Many of her colleagues found her cold and dismissive, but there's reason to believe her standoffish nature stemmed from insecurity and that she was, in reality, aching for companionship. According to her mother, Chubbuck lamented the fact that her invitations for platonic coffee dates to women she wanted to be friends with were always turned down. When Chubbuck developed a crush on a young coworker named George Ryan, she went so far as to bake a cake for his birthday and present it to him at work, but she soon discovered he was involved with her only work friend, Andrea Kirby, dashing her hopes. Chubbuck's romantic life was further complicated by the loss of an ovary a year prior to her death, which lowered her chances of conceiving a child with every passing year. As a virgin at almost 30, she didn't have time to waste.