David Riviera

David Riviera

Friday, 10 May 2019 06:40

MSP Airport Parking Ramp

The parking ramp spiral at MSP Airport T1 Red represents the spiraling temperature climb over time, the growing heat island effect of urban sprawl, and home to the largest solar farm in the state (4.3MW solar array on top of the parking ramps 7,937,410 kWh since November 2015).

msp parking ramp

msp parking spiral

msp parking ramp close up

Friday, 22 February 2019 14:09

Gaming as Digital Fundraising

Social media and game streaming sites are building teams of fundraising teams with greater reach more now than ever. Video game tournament payouts have skyrocketed since 2010, and participant and spectator counts have grown (Stahlke, Robb, & Mirza-Babaei, 2018). This vast new network of committed campaigners opens new fundraising opportunities that include personal storytelling, which creates events with stronger purpose and impact; larger audience reach; and deeper engagement with donors. Organizations such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) have dedicated resources to creating a charity stream on the game streaming site Twitch (Twitch — AFSP). Streamers share individual connections to causes, create donation challenges and incentives to build hype and involvement with viewers, and track fundraising progress in real-time. Sites such as Tiltify have created dedicated Livestream Fundraising Portals for charities to get involved. Other streaming platforms include Mixer and YouTube Live. Donation integration can be found on other sites like Extra Life and Crowdrise.

Samantha Stahlke, James Robb, and Pejman Mirza-Babaei. 2018. The Fall of the Fourth Wall: Designing and Evaluating Interactive Spectator Experiences. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations 10, 1 (January 2018), 42-62. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4018/IJGCMS.2018010103


Thursday, 20 December 2018 07:20

How to Speak About Suicide

Suicide is a sensitive topic. If you need to talk or find help to cope with emotions, feelings, or situations, here are some resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-8255
Veterans, Press 1

Crisis Text Line
Text HELLO to 741 741
Free. Confidential. 24/7.


Suicide is a sensitive topic for many people. Suicide is the end of a person’s life by their own choosing. Commonly, people will ask why a person has committed suicide. That question goes unanswered all too often. The leading cause of suicide is clinical depression—unsurmountable sorrow and despair that leads to loss of hope and thoughts of ending your existence to escape the pain. When a suicide happens, many factors need to be considered before communicating the details to an organization. There exists many guidelines for media reporting of suicides, but little is said about how to talk about suicide at the organization level. This paper aims to answer the question: What is the appropriate method for an organization to communicate a suicide of one of its community members?

Annotated Bibliography

Collings, S.C., & Kemp, C.G., (2010). Death knocks, professional practice, and the public good: The media experience of suicide reporting in New Zealand. Social Science and Medicine, 71(2), 244-248.

Collings and Kemp sought to examine the perceptions of suicide of those who report the news in New Zealand (2010). A series of interviews of 15 reporters were digitally recorded, de-identified, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed line by line to identify common themes and ideas held by the journalists. Some common themes included public responsibility to protect the good of the community, suicide is “taboo,” and the public’s right to know for news transparency. Additionally, some media personnel reported that they felt like teachers, having a role in the way children and young adults learn social norms. Mental health awareness was linked to suicide discussions. Awareness of drug and alcohol abuse can also be tied to suicide awareness (Collings & Kemp, 2010).

The commercial nature of news dictates that suicide is newsworthy by disclosing the nature of the act, and the identity of the deceased. As Collings and Kemp stated, “interesting stories sell, so celebrity suicides receive special attention (p. 246).” This was particularly true in the death of Robin Williams, whose widow reported he suffered from a debilitating mental illness that would have greatly affected his quality of life.

Reporting suicide is “part of the job,” but each story leaves the reporter with memories. Reporters were left distressed, shocked, or saddened (Collings & Kemp, 2010). Participants noted the death knock, which is approaching the family soon after the death for a statement, which was cited as the most difficult part of the job. Some noted that the emotional turmoil was just too great to pursue the topic.

The Ministry of Health in New Zealand has guidelines about what can be reported, and on the most part, coroners were cooperative, except in cases of celebrity death. While none of the participants reported using the MoH guidelines, they felt the legal guidelines conflated them. Many felt that their responsibility as a reporter would remain, whether or not the MoH guidelines were in place.

This article found that reporters framed suicide in the effort to protect and educate the public. It found that the effort of reporting a suicide leaves the journalist with personal effects, be them empathy or sadness in having to approach a family which recently suffered a loss, or if it’s to push the boundaries of ethical reporting just to get the big news story. This is the important take away: reporting a suicide to others changes you. Some reported that there should be one rule for all deaths, yet suicide seems to stand out as deserving special attention. Needless to say, informing others of a suicide is a difficult task that can leave you choked up when it’s time to identify the event. This puts in place the notion that it takes courage and confidence to make that announcement with respect to the deceased.

Davis, J.M., & Bates, C. (1990). Faculty suicide: Guidelines for effective coping with a suicide in a counselor-training program. Counselor Education & Supervision, 29(3), 197.

“It can’t happen to us.” That is what a counselor education program thought before a faculty member in the department completed suicide. As anticipated, members of the department (students and colleagues) responded with anger and sadness, but they were not able to find a logical explanation for what happened (Davis & Bates, 1990). This is not a common occurrence. Researchers could find no literature on the topic. Suicide prevention material for high schools, colleges, and families were plentiful, but only one article was found about the effects of a faculty suicide. The researchers sought to: explore the presuicide and postsuicide departmental dynamics to better understand [their] own situation (Davis & Bates, 1990, p. 197). This comparison is important, because it is human nature to react and respond to the emotional and mental toll a suicide will have on those around the deceased.

Through their findings, the researchers put together a set of policy recommendations for other departments. These important recommendations include not glamorizing or dramatizing the event, emphasizing that doing nothing can be dangerous, and serving the faculty needs so they can provide support for the students. They recommend and outside consulting agency for faculty to openly and succinctly address their most personal needs and concerns. The family and a representative of the organization should work together to formulate a brief statement for the media and other departments (Davis & Bates, 1990). A university liaison for the family may be appropriate. Students should be notified within 24 to 48 hours, so they find out appropriate and accurate facts before they find out on their own. Students should be treated as survivors of suicide as well. Memorializing the deceased without dramatizing the suicide may be appropriate, but should be coordinated with the family.

Davis and Bates (1990) emphasize, “After a crisis is not the time to plan for it” (p. 197). There could even be hope that discussing these events, when stress and discouragement are high, and people are pushed to their limit, could lead to relief for afflicted individuals, avoiding a tragic suicide event. Would knowing that a response plan is in effect prevent a person from suicide? How can we ever really know. It is clear that organizations, especially those with public relations and human resources, need to be prepared to talk about a suicide when it happens. Therefore, it’s important to review pre- and postsuicide responses to practical cases.

Hsiung, Robert C. (2007). A suicide in an online mental health support group: reactions of the group members, administrative responses, and recommendations. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4), 495-500.

Suicide in a support setting for mental illnesses is inevitable. Such is the case in an online discussion board that was under study from October 2001 to April 2003. Participants gave informed consent for their messages to be used in research. This community used information and communication technologies (ICTs) to form a group dedicated to support for psychiatric conditions. As a discussion board, it maintained a significant history of text and discussion. When a person—Z—committed suicide, the response of community members was recorded and evaluated. Z had talked openly about suicide ideology, and it was encouraged to vent about your life’s discouragements (Hsiung, 2007).

As with many online communities, people don’t know each other in person. This lack of real-life encounters makes it difficult to grieve and find closure on the event. Even after a year, on a memorial post made by the group moderator, members posted anger and sadness in response to their emotional memories of Z (Hsiung, 2007). Regardless if it was suicide or cancer, the moderator felt it was appropriate to create a memorial page, outside of the general community conversation, that people could go to when they wanted to pay their respects.

As may be true in other cases where ICTs are used, such as a work place, some workers may not actually meet their colleagues. They may have only worked together in virtual relationships (email, phone calls, and video conferences). Yet, they remain affected by the suicide completion, and face confusion when a new employee comes to replace the deceased. Human Resources may have a role in training and informing new members of the organization of the past history of the position. Out of respect for the deceased, you would not dramatize the event, but the fact remains that the team suffered a loss, and others will continue to be afflicted by their memories.

There always exists a concern about suicide contagion. Suicide contagion is an increased likelihood that reporting or talking about a suicide will influence or encourage a person contemplating the action to do so. In the research study conducted by Hsiung (2007), no evidence of postsuicide effect, called “Werther effect” in online posts. This was a real group. Posters created meaningful relationships and mourned a deceased member (Hsiung, 2007).

When communicating a suicide completion to an organization, provide resources to counseling and grieving services. This provides a means for those most affected by the news to seek relief. This, in turn, will hopefully reduce the “Werther effect” and minimize any post-news situations.

Niederkrotenthaler, T., Sonneck, G., Niederkrotenthaler, T., Till, B., Kapusta, N. D., Voracek, M., Dervic, K., Dervic, K., & Sonneck, G. (2009). Copycat effects after media reports on suicide: A population-based ecologic study. Social Science and Medicine, 69(7), 1085-1090.

Suicide contagion is the effect of copycat or imitated suicide based on the report or notification of such an event. The influence of media based reports required research and observation to learn the effects of media reports on potential suicide victims. Whether or not reporting on suicide influences suicide prevention efforts is a topic of much debate. Suicide reporting may educate the public, or it may trigger an individual to suicide (Niederkrotenthaler, Sonneck, Till, Kapusta, Voracek, & Dervic, 2009). However, few studies have found evidence of postsuicde increase in events. Several reasons for this were cited by Niederkrotenthaler et al. such as variations in methodologies, and lack of theoretical guidance (2009). The researchers wanted to identify evidence that supports assumptions that imitation follows reports of celebrity suicides.

Two views of identification were examined: vertical and horizontal. Vertical identification exists when the reported deceased is a celebrity or public figure. Horizontal identification is a set of one or more similar characteristics (Niederkrotenthaler et al., 2009). The researchers had two hypotheses: celebrity status would indicate an increase in copycat suicide reporting, and criminality status would see a lesser frequency of copycat suicide. Thirdly, they hypothesized that the frequency of suicide reporting would influence post-report imitation suicides. They also estimated that a definitive label (versus a speculative label) would increase post-item imitation, and that post-report suicides would resemble the celebrity in age, sex, and method.

Researchers obtained statistic data covering 1996 to 2006 from Statistics Austria. They also obtained Austrian newspapers that contained “self-murder” or “suicide” from the Austrian Press Agency. They only examined suicides where the name of the deceased was disclosed. Overall, 197 suicides were identified, which included internationally known Austrians and foreign celebrities alike (Niederkrotenthaler et al., 2009).

The findings were that celebrity status, middle aged men did predict a post-report increase of suicide. Furthermore, celebrity status was the primary factor in predicting copycat effects on suicide reporting. Overall, the authors’ hypotheses were found to be supported by evidence gathered.

There always exists the threat of a copycat or imitated suicide. In other research, I’ve found that it is imperative to provide resources and referrals to professional counseling and grieving services so that those affected most by the news of a completed suicide can seek appropriate counseling and care.

Pirkis, J., Blood, R.W., Skehan, J., & Dare, A. (2010). Suicide in the news: informing strategies to improve the reporting of suicide. Health Communication, 25(6-7), 576-577.

The media has great influence on the public’s actions, including in terms of behaviours related to suicide. Pirkis, Blood, Skehan, and Dare sought to examine media reports of suicide in New Zealand, and their results were explicitly included in the Commonwealth of New Zealand’s publication, Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness (2010). The method of their Media Monitoring Project was a quantitative content analysis and qualitative textual analyses to identify whether news values like status, conflict, unusualness of death, involvement of children, or “public interest” played a role in the reporting of a suicide.

From the Media Monitoring Project, the following guidelines were announced: be moderate in coverage, without details about the way the person died, and provide information about resources and helplines. Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness does not aim to censor media, but rather, is a means to ensure ethical reporting of individual cases, while empowering journalists to educate and inform the public (Pirkis et al., 2010). To evaluate whether the work has had an impact, the researchers did another year of analysis on suicide reporting, and found significant improvements in the manner suicides were conveyed.

Perkis and others’ (2010) findings support my research question in that there are specific considerations that need to be made when communicating to a large population. Information needs to be provided that focuses on the grieving process rather than dramatizing the event. Again, resources and counseling referrals should be provided.

Stern, S. R. (2003). Encountering distressing information in online research: a consideration of legal and ethical responsibilities. new media & society, 5(2), 249-266.

Sterns (2003) starts his article with a hypothetical situation. Hypothetically, researchers looking at WWW home pages discovered a page of two young boys who talked about how awful their lives were, and included, in detail, plans to terrorize their high school. These researchers analyzed the Webpage as they did all the others they discovered and moved in. Weeks later, the writers of the terrorizing home page attacked their school. How did the researchers react? They found themselves questioning their actions, wondering what would happen if fellow Americans learned they discovered this plan weeks before it was carried out.

Although a hypothetical situation, the above scenario echoes the question researchers should be asking themselves: what should I do if I encounter distressing information in online research? Unlike an offline counselor or mandated reporters, online researchers don’t have a special relationship with their research subjects. This limits the legal requirement to report. However, ethical and moral judgements need to be considered (Sterns, 2003). Sterns talks through this situation, not through research, but through a series of what-ifs.

Sterns quoted a 1976 California Supreme Court finding:

Under the common law, as a general rule, one person owes no duty to control the conduct of another, nor to warn those endangered by such conduct . . . except when the defendant stands in some special relationship to either the person whose conduct needs to be controlled or in a relationship to the foreseeable victim . . .

One important caveat is that reporting an act does violate confidentiality by disclosing information to a third party (Sterns, 2003). Therapists have specialized training in psychological situations to identify potentially harmful behavior. Online researchers lack this insight.

However, beyond legal requirements, there may be ethical and moral obligations that online researchers need to pay respect to. These include: respect for persons, beneficience, affirmative duty, and freedom of speech (Sterns, 2003).

Sterns comments that it is best to consult with other researchers in times of uncertainty. He contents that all researchers should contemplate their online relationship to research subjects, and make a plan about what to do about distressing information before they encounter it. Having a plan makes a discover all the much less scary.

Sterns’ article is important to my research question. Although I’m asking about how to talk about a suicide, it is inevitable that research may discover an act before it happens. As a researcher myself, I don’t know how I would react if I found some information that later could have been used to defuse a deadly situation.


Considerations of communicating a suicide to an organization include many facets that need to be considered before a statement can be made. The risk of imitation suicides, grief, sadness, anger, respect, and due process influence the messages that must be said. From a department that suffered a completed suicide, Davis and Bates (1990) indicated that a message should be sent out within 24 to 48 hours to avoid gossip and incorrect reports. Care should be taken when communicating about a suicide, however. While it is important to inform the organization of the correct details, there needs to be concern given to the mental well-being of the organization members. Much like the professional aspect of journalism finds that the public’s good is served by proper suicide reporting, the members of the organization have a right to know, and it is important to use the opportunity to educate and empower members (Collings and Kemp, 2010). This includes providing support to everyone who may request it in a time of distress and grieving.

People will want to mourn and memorialize the deceased (Hsiung, 2007). Careful planning and open discussion with respect to privacy and family wishes should be maintained. In planning an announcement to an organization, after confirmation of death and identity, respect for the deceased should be a top priority. Family wishes should trump organizational requests for memorializing the dead.

If the deceased held a position of power, or was a public figure of celebrity status, there may be a risk of imitation behavior (Niederkrotenthaler, Sonneck, Till, Kapusta, Voracek, & Dervic, 2009). This is especially true of male, middle-aged men. When providing information about a suicide, as we have seen, the method of death should be emphasized less, and resources to counseling services should be provided.

Online researchers are not likely to have a legal obligation to report distressing information they find online (Sterns, 2003). However, ethical and moral considerations should be considered. If a research finds information that could stop a deadly attack, how should they respond? Sterns (2003) recommends that all researchers plan ahead and have a strategy in place should they encounter information that they may have to reveal at a later time. I find it would be easier to report a distressing situation, rather than inform the public after a horrific event of the prior knowledge that was obtained. In terms of communicating with an organization, I would find it most prudent to prevent a loss rather than disseminate an apology for failing to act.

Overall, I think it’s clear that communicating a suicide is a difficult task that no one wants to take on. However, suicides are inevitable, and an organization can plan ahead to mitigate the disruption a death in the community will make. Considerations to minimize the Werther effect and improve griefing services should be made. Moral and ethical requirements about how to disseminate suicide details need to be considered.


Collings, S.C., & Kemp, C.G., (2010). Death knocks, professional practice, and the public good: The media experience of suicide reporting in New Zealand. Social Science and Medicine, 71(2), 244-248.

Davis, J.M., & Bates, C. (1990). Faculty suicide: Guidelines for effective coping with a suicide in a counselor-training program. Counselor Education & Supervision, 29(3), 197.

Hsiung, Robert C. (2007). A suicide in an online mental health support group: reactions of the group members, administrative responses, and recommendations. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4), 495-500.

Niederkrotenthaler, T., Sonneck, G., Niederkrotenthaler, T., Till, B., Kapusta, N. D., Voracek, M., Dervic, K., Dervic, K., & Sonneck, G. (2009). Copycat effects after media reports on suicide: A population-based ecologic study. Social Science and Medicine, 69(7), 1085-1090.

Pirkis, J., Blood, R.W., Skehan, J., & Dare, A. (2010). Suicide in the news: informing strategies to improve the reporting of suicide. Health Communication, 25(6-7), 576-577.

Stern, S. R. (2003). Encountering distressing information in online research: a consideration of legal and ethical responsibilities. new media & society, 5(2), 249-266.

Sunday, 16 December 2018 05:01

Miles of Time

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a Hollywood film (albeit animation) deserving of great recognition for the representation and role model it provides to aspiring young black and Latino men. For years, Hollywood has been described as being too white, racist, sexist, and lacking proper representation of diversity and inclusion in hit films. We've seen a changing trend over recent years of films like Hidden Figures and Black Panther showing strong people of color represented in positive roles. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse builds on that improvement in an amazing feature of encouragement, guidance to overcome fears and doubts, and acceptance of your strengths to achieve your goals. Young black men find a wonderful superhero on screen that saves the world, and the origin story deserves an award for the record books.

Multiple Spider-Beings come together in Spider-Verse through a rip in the space-time fabric in an experiment by Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), which presents the ultimate collision of generations, genres, genders, species, and experience. Only together can the space and time they were ripped from be piece together, and only through a leap of faith when Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) not only puts on the mask (which anyone can do), but chooses to be who he is and becomes the Spider-Man he is in his time. Miles needed some hard truths from Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) to see what needed to be done, but the choice was ultimately his to show up. Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), and Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) join the gang to fight Kingpin and Doc Ock (Kathryn Hahn) in stopping the time portal from destroying the world. This diverse group of Spider-Beings coming together proves it doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, or how you got there—you can be destined to do great things, and work as a team to do good.

I am not worthy to repeat the plethora of wisdom provided by the late Stan Lee in this film. In a legacy that will last generations, Mr. Lee has let us all know we are not alone, and that our suits will fit… eventually. It is up to us to put on that mask, and to take that leap of faith to wear that mask with genuine humility and honest commitment. 

The people asked Hollywood to deliver diversity and inclusion brining greater representation to the screen. This move improves intercultural relationships, provides positive role models for underrepresented youth, and demonstrates a commitment to fair and equal inclusion of all members of society. Hollywood has a powerful position with its influence and voice. I feel Spider-Verse shows that Hollywood is starting to grow into its super suit.

"Took you long enough."
—Aunt May

Monday, 15 October 2018 00:39

A Hero and a Genius

I am assignments away from obtaining a Master of Education in Youth Development Leadership, so you may see how the recent documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, which covered the origins and impact of Fred Rogers and his television series on youth outreach in new media, was a fascinating study for me. During my time in my grad program, I brought forward issues of technology and communication, and the impact on social development, emotional bond and support, and civic engagement. I prompted conversations about youth suicide and how the greater coverage of celebrity suicide impacts mental health discussions on campus. I think Fred Rogers ia a hero and a genius.

I encourage you to watch Won't You Be My neighbor? as soon as you can.

Listen to an interview with Joanne Rogers.

Monday, 15 October 2018 00:01

Back to BASIC

Always take time to go back to basics. I started programming in my early teens, if not pre-teen years, from the 3-2-1 CONTACT Magazine BASIC snippets provided for the Apple II computer. These fundamentals persist in the web platforms I continue to use today.


This magazine was a campanion to a PBS show with the same name.

Thursday, 11 October 2018 08:31

SPAR Education Draft #1

One product of completing some of the final remaining assignments for my Master of Education degree is the first draft of the SPAR Education Training Guide. Eight lesson plans outline the curriculum guide for Suicide Prevention, Awareness, & Prevention (SPAR) that may be used as training for leadership teams. A lot of work has been put into my degree studies on this topic, and there is a lot more work to do to refine and prepare this curriculum for use. With this first draft, I have a presentable format of concepts and flow for the material which can be reviewed with partners, mentors, and advisers. More attention needs to be given to preparing the material for a given audience and to ensure the outcomes of the training meet the needs and goals for providing the training. I am most glad to check one more class off my list of those remaining to be completed. There is just one more left!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017 02:59


How much paper junk mail do you throw away in a year? Have you tried to collect it all and weigh it up? You'd be surprised.

DMAchoice is a direct mail opt-out list provided by the Data & Marketing Association. For a fee of $2.00, your opt-out preference will be held on file for 10 years. Reputable direct mail advertisers will respect the Do Not Mail list and reduce your junk mail, reduce printing and shipping costs, and reduce environmental waste.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 01:31

Reinventing Yourself

Topic(s) of Interest


Definition: having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions.

  • Who was I?
  • Who am I?
  • Who will I be?

I want to learn how to reinvent myself. I struggled with many medical setbacks this semester, and I need to find a way to emerge “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” (Daft Punk) and more resilient. I lost sight of who I was, I want to find out who I am again.


Definition: the confident and forceful expression or promotion of oneself, one’s views, or one’s desires.

  • What’s holding me back?
  • What am I afraid of?
  • What do I want?

Once I know who I am, I need to discover how to express myself. I need to learn how to take a new approach at life, and need to take actions to overcome my obstacles and find ways to succeed.

Saturday, 21 October 2017 11:55


Remember—I have a Bachelor of Science in Theatre, Communication, and Youth Studies.

Therefore, the fact that this is a photo of a stage prop should resonate loudly. This prop portrays a great level of respect between a stage manager, actor(s), and director. The stage manager stores and keeps the prop safe at all times when not in use during a scene. This includes during a rehearsal, and during dark times. This is usually done by means of a lock box or gun cabinet, depending on weapons used and facilities available.

Next, the transfer of trust occurs when the prop weapon is handed from the stage manager or weapon master to the actor that will be handling the prop. It is a prop; it is a tool for performance, and must be treated with due respect. That hand-off entails that the gun is in safe working order, if any blank ammunition is loaded, the assurance that the blanks are proper minimum strength for the necessary use, and that the prop master/stage manager will be available immediately upon completion of the scene to retrieve the weapon to ensure its return to safe keeping.

Theatre is a work space. It is a place for enjoyment by the audience, by means of hard work and dedication of professionals who have trained and prepared for an emotionally trying presentation. Using a weapon—especially firearms—on stage delivers powerful scenes with deep emotional impact. Does the audience see the thread of trust that exists from the unlocking of the lock box, to the hand-off to the actor, the return to the weapon master, and the locking of storage again? They’re not supposed to, but it is the ultimate trust endowed on any team.

Please consult with a professional fight choreographer or firearms instructor for the safety of your cast, crew, and audience. Obey all local and federal laws and regulations, and union rules if they apply.

Page 1 of 5

Blog entries are solely the opinions of the authors, and do not reflect the opinions or viewpoints of any organizations or individuals associated with Oz Technology Company GBC.