Today’s Washington Post features an extensive piece by Daniel de Vise on the suicide of Kevin Morrissey, editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR) whose death has been linked to allegations of workplace bullying at the hands of the journal’s editor in chief:
Surviving relatives and some co-workers portray Kevin Morrissey, 52, as the target of a workplace bully. Their narrative has an unlikely villain: Ted Genoways, 38, a decorated poet who led a transformation of the Review from a low-budget black-and-white journal into a colorful, edgy magazine that is cited among the best literary publications in the country. According to Maria Morrissey, Kevin Morrissey’s sister, a caustic e-mail from Genoways was on her brother’s computer screen when he died.
Genoways and some of his supporters say Morrissey’s death was simply a suicide: a man choosing to die and blaming no one, leaving a note that said, “I can’t bear things anymore.”
The article further notes that the University of Virginia, which publishes the VQR, expects to complete its internal investigation by the end of the month.
The Post article reiterates the two competing accounts of what happened: (1) Morrissey was bullied to the point of suicide by his boss and the failure of the University to respond to his pleas for help; or (2) Morrissey was a deeply troubled individual who chose to take his own life.
As I have written earlier on this blog, the “bullycide” narrative is a plausible one for this situation. We have allegations involving a vulnerable individual, a bullying boss, repeated requests for help to the employer ignored or neglected, ending in a tragedy. However, allegations do not equal proof, and it appears that all the pieces of this story have yet to be assembled, at least in terms of what has been shared with the public.
Some of the criticisms of the press coverage suggest that reporters have jumped to conclusions about what happened here without sufficient evidence. I disagree; given what we know about the insidious nature of workplace bullying, this event merits the general substance of the coverage it is receiving.
For previous commentary on this blog about the Kevin Morrissey/VQR tragedy, see here (NBC Today Show coverage), here (developing media coverage); and here (initial story via Chronicle of Higher Education).