Bullying May Have Been Factor In Virginia Quarterly Review Editor’s Suicide

TheWrap has been looking into the suicide of Virginia Quarterly Review managing editor Kevin Morrissey, and it would appear that Morrissey had to contend with an extremely hostile working environment — so hostile, in fact, that some surviving family members and colleagues are wondering whether this ill-treatment may have been a factor in his death.

At the center of the speculation is the literary magazine’s editor in chief Ted Genoways, whose treatment of Morrissey has been described as “egregious.” From the TheWrap:

Shortly before 10 a.m. on July 30, Genoways sent an e-mail to Morrissey “accusing him of jeopardizing the life of a writer,” according to one account reported by The Hook, a local newsweekly. At 11:30 a.m., Morrissey called 911 to report a shooting near a coal tower in Charlottesville, Virginia. When police arrived, they found Morrissey dead, the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The University of Virginia, which operates the magazine, has launched an internal investigation into Morrissey’s death and the allegations of bullying against Genoways. “The untimely death of Kevin Morrissey has raised questions about the university’s response to employees’ concerns about the workplace climate in the VQR office,” UVA president Teresa Sullivan said in a statement late last week. “We will be undertaking a thorough review of VQR’s operations.”

Genoways, for his part, attributes Morrissey’s death to an ongoing battle with depression, and wrote in a memo to staffers that he “cannot accept the final blame he laid on me.” It had been rumored that Morrissey mentioned Genoways in his suicide note, but a look at the legible portion of the letter does not seem to make any mention of him.

Morrissey’s lawyer appeared on the Today show and said his client had indeed been depressed at the time he took his life, but did not rule out “unhappiness at work” as a possible contributing factor.