ABC Agrees to Add Epilogue to Wonderland
NAMI urges postponement of tonight's suicide episode;
Network safety precautions still not in place
For Immediate Release, April 6, 2000
Contacts: Bob Carolla or Mary Rappaport 703-524-7600
Arlington, VA -ABC Television has advised the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) that it will add an epilogue to tonight's episode of Wonderland, which includes a graphic suicide scene-but it will not include precautions against the risk of increased suicides in communities where the show airs.
Based on such concerns, NAMI is calling on ABC to delay the broadcast of tonight's episode until a coordinated public health and safety plan is put in place by the network, and affiliates have secured the cooperation of effective, tested local suicide hotlines-as urged by 15 national mental health organizations.
Some ABC affiliates are taking precautions on their own. In the absence of any guidance or plan from the network, ABC affiliates in Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle have been seeking to run local hotline numbers during tonight's broadcast.
During Wonderland's premiere episode last week, WLNE-ABC 6 in Providence, Rhode Island set a precedent of responsibility by running the toll-free number of a local suicide crisis line a "suicide tutorial" scene. The hotline received 21 telephone calls over four days as a direct result of the broadcast.
NAMI and other national groups have requested that ABC run the following warning and disclaimer on the program: "Wonderland presents only a partial view of mental illness. Although the show contains violence, people with treated mental illness are no more violent than the general population. Some viewers may find scenes to be disturbing, particularly those involving suicide. Viewers who have suicidal thoughts should call local crisis hotlines or seek immediate professional help. "The coalition also has asked affiliates to "crawl" the following message around the suicide scene: "Viewers who have suicidal thoughts should call the _______Crisis Line at ____________."