Irish immigrant’s suicide exposes all that’s wrong with online media


News analysis: We have to be more careful.

By Sheila Langan

When does an offbeat and mildly amusing news item suddenly turn into a tragic one?

When the subject kills himself.

It happened on Thursday. Padraig Gaffney, a 29-year-old Irishman living in Australia, made the headlines of news sites from New Zealand to the US. He had pleaded guilty to causing AUS$500,000 in damages to a Melbourne hotel one drunken night last year.


The court proceedings from his case were detailed, describing a weekend trip for Gaffney and his then-girlfriend gone terribly awry.

In the early morning hours of April 21, Gaffney, intoxicated and wearing only his underwear, left their hotel room to wander the halls. He urinated on hotel property, banged on doors, and activated a fire hydrant valve that flooded the first seven floors of the building. No guests were hurt, but they did have to be evacuated and re-located.