Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Row over Clarkson's suicide comment

Jeremy Clarkson has described people who throw themselves under trains as selfish

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has faced a storm of protest from mental health charities after he branded people who throw themselves under trains as "selfish".

The 51-year-old, who was forced to apologise earlier this week after saying all striking workers should be shot, was embroiled in further controversy after he reiterated his view that those who commit suicide on railway lines cause "immense" disruption for commuters.

Charities said his comments were "tasteless" and accused him of trivialising the subject of suicide.

In his column in The Sun newspaper, Clarkson said: "I have the deepest sympathy for anyone whose life is so mangled and messed up that they believe death's icy embrace will be better. However, every year around 200 people decide that the best way to go is by hurling themselves in front of a speeding train. In some ways they are right. This method has a 90% success rate and it's extremely quick.

"However, it is a very selfish way to go because the disruption it causes is immense. And think what it's like for the poor train driver who sees you lying on the line and can do absolutely nothing to avoid a collision."

Later in the article the presenter referred to those who choose to jump in front of trains as "Johnny Suicide" and argues that following a death, trains should carry on their journeys as soon as possible.

He added: "The train cannot be removed nor the line re-opened until all of the victim's body has been recovered. And sometimes the head can be half a mile away from the feet. Change the driver, pick up the big bits of what's left of the victim, get the train moving as quickly as possible and let foxy woxy and the birds nibble away at the smaller, gooey parts that are far away or hard to find."

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said: "We are absolutely appalled that Jeremy Clarkson should accuse people who throw themselves on railway lines of being 'selfish'. He has obviously never experienced the agony of mind which drives people to such desperate acts.

"When gripped by such mental anguish people do not act rationally. The selfish person is the one who rates being late by minutes or hours as more important than a person losing their lives forever."

Catherine Johnstone, Samaritans' chief executive, said: "The insensitivity of Jeremy Clarkson's comments in his Sun column today about people who die by suicide on the railways truly beggars belief. While purporting to express sympathy for people who die this way, his remarks about their bodies constitute gross intrusion into the grief and shock of bereaved families and friends."

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