Too much personal information is harmful


Last Wednesday, I checked my e-mail and read a K-State Alert which many of you likely received as well. As I read the alert, which contained information regarding a missing Manhattan man, I couldn’t help but be shocked and in fact mildly appalled. The e-mail explained the missing man was thought to be suicidal and said he may be under the influence of heroin. The same information was reported in several news sources, including this paper, and came from a report by the RCPD.

Likely for the same concerns I have, this information was omitted in reports by at least one new source. Reporting to the general public that this man was possibly suicidal and under the influence of narcotics was entirely unnecessary in his being located. The RCPD and KSU could simply have reported this man had not been seen in several days and there was concern for his safety. Instead, both institutions chose to release information, the authenticity of which cannot be certain, in what amounts essentially to defamation of character.

More importantly, however, my horror over the issue stems from a very real concern that the RCPD and KSU’s actions may have made an already troubled young man’s life even more difficult. Let us assume for a moment that this man is indeed deep in the depths of depression, so much so as to be considering taking his own life. If this is the case, then certainly finding out the general public now believes him to be suicidal and on illegal drugs could push an already disillusioned man even closer to the edge.

While I realize both the RCPD and KSU both chose to make this release out of genuine concern for this man’s safety and with the best of intentions, I must condemn anyone would choose to give a possibly suicidal man a valid reason to be more depressed. And while I pray that he is found, or chooses to return home, there is the unfortunate grim possibility that this young man was alive when these releases were made and he could still choose to commit suicide at some point after them. If this tragic event were to happen, then the RCPD and the university would unfortunately never know if their actions in the course of attempting to locate him were a contributing factor in his death.

Eli Neal

Senior in English and journalism and mass communications