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Apr 18, 2012

After Suicide Report; Distraught Family wants apology

Manuel Vivas

There is outright condemnation tonight of the publication of a suicide report in the Tuesday edition of a local newspaper. The public outrage is over the picture of a female minor with a rope around her neck accompanied by the suicide note naming another minor over whom she took her life, which were both plastered on the front page. It is believed that the photograph and note were leaked to the newspaper by a police officer. The article has brought further distress to the families of the two teens, who are having a hard enough time coping with the incident. So while, it is our policy to leave suicides out of the news, we are compelled to follow up on the story tonight because both families have come forward to speak against the sensationalism of the suicide story. Manuel Vivas, the uncle of the suicide victim, came to News Five studios today. He says the family is demanding a public apology or they will go to court.


Manuel Vivas, Uncle of Suicide Victim

“Our family is very upset about this publication in the Amandala news paper for several reasons, particularly these reasons; number one, this girls is a teenager right. She is seventeen years of age, she was born on the seventeenth of September, 1994 so you can classify her as a minor. Secondly, the note that was published in the Amandala was handed over to the police department. The family does not know how the note got into the hands of the Amandala press and thirdly, we gave Amandala no permission to publish this picture of my niece or that note.”


Delahnie Bain

“So is the family planning to take any kind of action?”


Manuel Vivas

“Well, I have written the Amandala press today, asking for a public apology. If they do not apologize, then we’re contemplating on doing legal action.”


Delahnie Bain

“And why did you decide to come to the media about it?”


Manuel Vivas

“Because we the family feel that it has happened to us, it could happen to any other family in Belize that a newspaper can publish another minor suicide and I would not like it to happen to another family in Belize”


Delahnie Bain

“How has this affected you all? I mean seeing it and having all her other family and friends seeing her like this?”


Manuel Vivas

“Well, it’s very—you know this has caused us more pain on top of the pain that we are already suffering in our heart. This has caused us more pain to us, our family, our friends, the little boy whose name was mentioned in the newspaper. It’s caused a lot of pain and suffering.  I would just like to say that I would not like to an article like this published again because it will cause a lot of distress to other families in Belize and also I will be taking this up with the Minister in charge of police and the Commissioner of Police. As I said, I’ve written to the Amandala and I want a public apology from the Amandala.”


According to Vivas, they are looking into counseling options for friends and family members to help them cope with the emotional distress.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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15 Responses for “After Suicide Report; Distraught Family wants apology”

  1. borntobehero says:

    Agree with you Sir, the media has to respect civil rights of our beloved Belizeans, so well done on taking actions on this matter, my deepest condolences to your family on these days of pain.

  2. Elgin Martinez says:

    ThePolice Department should also be held responsible because it is their duty to protect the crime scene from the public.

  3. Belmopan says:

    It was simply poor judgement on the part of the newspaper!

    I would like to express my sincere symphaty to the Vivas family our prayers are with you!

  4. Brightman says:

    A lawsuit is very much in order–a simple apology is not enough. Such blatant disregard for the families of both minors is downright irresponsible, insensitive, and disrespectful. We must NOT allow that kind of pseudo-journalism to become the norm in Belize!!

  5. shabba says:

    a hope deh sue dem.

  6. lawyer says:

    sue them all. Amandala. Police Dept, Compol,
    Attorney General and Min of Police. sort it out afterwards, but you need to sue them all right away.

  7. Sweet Cheeks says:

    Rest In Peace Alicia Vivas.

  8. John John says:

    I totally disagree with Amandala’s decision to publish the picture of the young girl and the name of the boy. However. I am wondering whether the family of the victim and the boy’s family have a cause of action to bring a civil suit against Amandalaand or the police. There is after all no common law tort of invasion to privacy. So that is a non starter. The pictures were published when the immediate family and close relatives had already known of the tragic incident. Therefore the tort of psychiatric injury is again a non starter. I see Amandala walking off without any liability which is very unfair. As for the police the only route would be to establish whether there is any statutory duty which they might have breached; and I doubt whether there is any. I hope my assumptions and conclusions are wrong because some one has to be made responsible for this.

  9. islander says:

    As of today I will boycott Amandala….. Every Belizean should do the same, if we endanger amandala’s existence by boycotting it they will start listening to the people…

    Instead of buying Amandala lets give that dollar and fifty cents to a needy person on the streetside.

  10. Anti Belizean says:

    I agree that it is an invasion of privacy, be it a suicide case, a murder case, or any incident that morbidly displays human body. In this same nature we must question why is it then that when black teenagers murder each other no one give heck about them when they are presented in the media. This incident, as unfortunate as it is, has served the community since it has started a “conversation” about what is acceptable or unacceptable in the media. The sides we choose to stand by or criticize at the ed of the day are personal, (un)ethical, et cetera, but they are our positions anyhow.

    I disagree with boycotting the Amandala. If there is any media house to boycott is the Guardian and Belize Times [But being the fanatics we are, this is inconceivable]. Amandala made a poor judgement. Period. Yes, as responsible corporations go, it should provide an apology. It is possible that the article was amatureish, “pseudo journalism,” et cetera. However, Amandala has consistently done excellent journalism. In fact, in the difficult times in Belize where there was political and economic turmoil it has been one of the most objective and transparent information outlet. Its historical value to Belize is unquestionable [for the skeptics, visit the archives of Belize to prove yourselves wrong].

    At the end of the day, as Mitt Romney infamously said: “Corporations are people.” And even if this were not true, (thankfully) humans are still the ones in charge of their functioning. And as humans go, we are eternally condemned to make mistakes. It is my belief that this was a mistake.

    Power to the People.

  11. Charles says:

    Report the news Amandala…Report the news. If someone wants to commit suicide…let them write in their will that they do not want the media to report…then we respect that. Maybe if other suicide details are reported..this girl would still be alive today. It hurts but its true. Maybe those who have teenagers will learn to become closer to their loved ones…maybe writing about this will help others. MOREOVER THE LAST TIME I CHECKED FREEDOM OF SPEECH WAS STILL GUARANTEED IN BELIZE. GOD BLESS!

  12. brightman says:

    Yes, Charles…I pray you never have to see for yourself the tragic image of one of your loved ones sprawled front cover of any media publication…but if it were to happen, I’d be eager to hear your views on this issue again!

  13. Storm says:

    If we don’t have laws today controlling what information the police can put out to the public, we need them. Police investigations must be confidential — is it smart to tell the criminals or the public at large about sensitive investigations? No, it’s stupid and unprofessional.

    If we have a ComPol worth his pay, he must investigate this indiscretion. If rules were broken by the police, heads must roll.

    Who is guarding the guards?

  14. sweets says:


  15. grace smith says:

    I think you should sue the amandala sorry for your loss.

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