UPDATE: The Vancouver Sun agreed and corrected the headline in its second edition. See below for the update.

Let’s see if I have this straight:

  1. Sensational Headline: Bi-polar patients can become violent.
  2. Actual story: Bi-polar patients probably won’t become violent.

Come on. A little factual headline writing would be nice. In j-school, you’d get a failing mark for crap writing like this.

It’s this kind of sensationalism that continues to perpetuate the stigma behind mental health issues.

Email sent to Patricia Graham, Vancouver Sun’s Editor-in-Chief:

Hi Patricia,

I was disturbed to see your paper’s recent headline:

“Bi-polar patients can become violent, prof says.”

What disturbed me was not the headline, but that the article, just three paragraphs in, counters the headline:

“Often there is stubbornness and inability to cooperate, but that doesn’t mean the patient will become violent.”

Which is the truth? Clearly, the latter.

People skimming headlines — as is increasingly the case in a digital news world — will come away with an inaccurate sense of the reality here.

Will the Vancouver Sun publish a correction?


Her response (which was refreshingly quick):

I agree with you about this headline. It appeared in our first (early) edition only, and was caught and corrected for the second edition. The revised headline says:

“Bipolar patients rarely become violent, prof says”.

This was an unfortunate error; the second edition goes to the majority of our readers, but Vancouver Island and rural areas would have got the first edition.