The Washington Post headline read: “Christine Chubbuck: 29, Good-Looking, Educated, A Television Personality. Dead. Live and in Color.”
As Sarasota, Florida newswoman Christine Chubbuck sat at her anchor desk on July 15, 1974, she said into 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—an attempted suicide.”
Chubbuck then withdrew a .38 caliber revolver from her bag and placed it at the base of her skull. She pulled the trigger, becoming the first person to commit suicide on a live television broadcast.
Before the incident, Chubbuck had been severely depressed. She had no relationships (either platonic or romantic — she was a virgin despite being just shy of 30). She constantly clashed with studio execs over their airing of fluff pieces instead of real journalism.
When Chubbuck’s suicide aired on live TV, it was only seen by a few hundred people at most. In addition, the station rarely taped its own broadcasts — but that particular morning, Chubbuck made sure that they did.
This tape still exists; the widow of the station owner inherited the unwatched video and placed it with a large law firm and out of public view. Thus you won’t see it here, or anywhere else (unless recent rumors of it having surfaced are to be believed. Instead, it remains a holy grail for collectors of macabre video.