What Killed Kevin?

More than a year after the suicide of an editor at the Virginia Quarterly Review raised questions about workplace bullying, a New York filmmaker is wrapping up production of a documentary about the subject.

The film explores the issues of workplace bullying based on what happened in Charlottesville.

Beverly Peterson’s film begins at the place where Kevin Morrisey’s body was found shortly after he called 911.  The film then turns to media coverage of Morrisey’s suicide.

Peterson spoke several times with Morrisey’s boss ,Ted Genoways, and with Genoways’ wife.

“Kevin’s mood could be dark for days at a time in ways that weren’t always visible to the rest of the staff.   We did so much for Kevin, but it was never enough. I wish we could have done more, but he’s not the person they describe. He wasn’t weak and bullied.”

The film also introduces us to Morrissey’s sister, who said her brother was depressed and that their family was dysfunctional. But after learning others were unhappy at the Virginia Quarterly Review, she points an accusing finger at the magazine’s parent, the University of Virginia.

“I hear this dramatic story of my brother being bullied, of everyone down there asking for help and not getting any help, of them telling people that they were afraid Kevin was suicidal,” says his sister. “No one was helping Kevin. Why?”

The university’s president ordered an investigation that absolved Ted Genoways in the death of Kevin Morrisey. Filmmaker Peterson thinks the media was too quick to lay blame and relied too heavily on an advocacy group called the Workplace Bullying Institute, which quickly adopted Kevin Morrisey as a poster child.

Peterson admits she got interested in this subject years before the Morrisey case when she was the victim of a workplace bully.  Now she’s using her website, ourbullypulpit.com, to fight back by promoting a national discussion of workplace bullies and legislation proposed to stop them. The first three parts of her documentary, What Really Killed Kevin Morrisey, are there and she’ll post three more during Freedom From Workplace Bullying Week in mid October.

— Sandy Hausman


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