It’s been more than 40 years since Christine Chubbuck took her life during a live news broadcast, but it is a case that continues to fascinate people.
In the weeks leading up to her on-air suicide, Chubbuck had maliciously planned her final broadcast. She had given away some of her possessions to what few close friends she had and convinced the station manager to allow her to cover the topic of suicide on the morning talk show she hosted for a local news station out of Sarasota, Florida. A nightly news editor for the station claimed that Chubbuck had even joked about killing herself on-air a week prior to her suicide, but had shaken off the comment as macabre humor. By all accounts, all of the warning signs that Chubbuck had been planning something drastic were there, but no one expected what happened next.
On the morning of July 15, 1974, Christine Chubbuck walked into the studio of WXLT-TV and told her co-workers that she had planned to read several newscasts in order to open her morning talk show. Station staff found this unusual but agreed to allow Chubbuck to sit at the anchor’s desk as her guest that morning waited outside the studio. Chubbuck read three local stories, including a story covering a shooting at a local restaurant. During this last story the newsreel jammed, but Chubbuck improvised, stating,
“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—attempted suicide.”
Chubbock then produced a loaded gun from a paper bag she had hidden under the desk, pointed it at her head, and pulled the trigger. By the time the director had realized what had happened, it was already too late. Christine’s dramatic suicide had been broadcasted to thousands of viewers. On the desk, a script was found for anchors to read later that evening listing herself as in “critical” condition.
In 2016, two films were made about Christine Chubbuck and her devotion to helping others during her short life. It was during the making of these films that information about the original reels of Christine’s final broadcast were brought up by survivors close to the case. It was learned that former station manager, Bob Nelson, had kept the reels for some unknown reason. These original tapes were then passed on to Nelson’s widow, who held on to them per her deceased husband’s wishes. The requests for these tapes began to make Nelson’s widow uncomfortable and she later told those interested in the footage that she had given them to an undisclosed law firm for safe keeping.
In what could only be explained as part historical significance and part morbid curiosity, many have been seeking out clips of this original footage throughout the past 40 years. Though the recent discovery that this lost footage did still exist gave some hope that the tape would one day surface, most had come to accept that it was footage that the public would never see.
On February 9, 2017, the footage that most believed had been lost forever may have finally surfaced. A YouTube user known as “kyuss” uploaded a grainy video of what is believed by some to be an authentic copy of Christine Chubbuck’s final news broadcast. It has not been confirmed how this user was able to access this footage.
This video has been embedded below for the morbidly curious. Though the clip is of poor quality and very little gore is visible, please be advised that some readers may find the content to be extremely disturbing. View discretion is advised.