Theatre says director committed suicide after media attacks

The Swedish arts world is in shock over the death of Benny Fredriksson, 58, former head of the Stockholm state theatre. The theatre, in a public statement, announced that he took his own life.

Fredriksson, who was married to the international mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, resigned last December after 16 years, under pressure from ferocious media criticism of his leadership style based on varied complaints by 40 staff members.

The theatre, in its public statement, links his tragic death to the media campaign.

Swedish journalists are urgently searching their consciences.

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  • Just as one should have been cautious about running before the horse with the allegations made against him, one must be cautious at attributing his suicide to the media spotlight.

    This is the problem with social media. Abuse in the workplace is complex. Depression is complex. Suicide is complex.

    None of these things can be reduced to an algorithm. As Cambridge Analytica are just finding out, reducing human nature to clicks and bits can have disastrous consequences.

    • Agreed, which is why we have to be extra careful. The vast majority of suicides are due to depression which has a largely physiological basis and of course some people are more prone to it than others. However, external circumstances can help change brain physiology. One theory is that depression is anger turned inward.
      Also, people tend to act angrily towards others when they angry or feeling bad or are dissatisfied with themselves I know that this is certainly true for me.
      The press reports could have already exacerbated feelings of depression or low self esteem in someone who was already very vulnerable.
      May the family find peace.

        • No. But I did look him up on Wikipedia.
          I do not pretend to know anybody’s true motive. My only point is that people who act angrily at others frequently do so because they are angry or disappointed at themselves and that obnoxious behavior can be a coverup of internal depression. Or as the kitchen psychologist would say, “There is no such thing as problem people, only people with problems”.
          If, by mentioning Dunning-Kruger, you are saying that I believe that I know more or have more insight than I actually do, I plead guilty as charged. However, I am not the only one suffering from the Dunning-Kruger syndrome who blogs here.

  • Benny Fredriksson was presented as a monster in the press lately, with incredibly grotesque accusations. I am not going to deepen in the objective facts that I neither can evaluate nor am interested in doing so, but that definitively reminds me that in Sweden many people say that “skadeglädje är den enda glädjen”, or “the joy of damage is the only (real) joy,” and the local media/social media is especially vicious in destroying careers and reputations as soon as the slightest smell of blood is in the air, no matter if the accusation is pertinent or fake.

    • I have no idea what Mr. Fredriksson was accused of, or whether any of the accusations had any truth to them. But when you say “the local media/social media is especially vicious in destroying careers and reputations as soon as the slightest smell of blood is in the air, no matter if the accusation is pertinent or fake” I am reminded of the subjects of a number of recent discussions on this very outlet of social media, among other places

      As “Sanity” says above, suicide is complex. People’s temperaments differ in how they respond to accusations and allegations. Some file lawsuits. Others withdraw from the fray. But this sad event ought to be a salutary tale, in a forum where there has been enough mud slung recently by participants to build an adobe village.

        • “The Swedish press seems particularly unpleasant. Also fond of casual anti-Semitism.”

          On the second part of that statement, the Swedish press is hardly alone.

          • Ever heard the phrase “You can’t establish your own innocence by proving someone elses guilt”……………..

          • True enough. But nota major problem with the UK press. It’s some of our politicians who are very much a disgrace. Mostly since the advent of “kinder, gentler politics”.

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