Sunday, 4 December 2011


So, Mr Clarkson has once again got himself into bother by speaking his mind. Rightly, or wrongly, he says what he thinks and that's his crime.

Now, before you all start writing to me, blasting me for 'siding with the devil' or whatever, I'd like you to think about something he said; something that, aside from the rather cold-hearted comments about shooting strikers and leaving train-suicide body parts for the 'foxy woxies', is actually more truth than scandal.

He said that people who commit suicide by throwing themselves in front of trains cause grief for the driver and massive inconvenience for commuters. Now, I've dealt first-hand with train suicides - you know this - and I have no argument with those remarks, I'm afraid. It's a horrible way to kill yourself and I have every sympathy for the families who've had to cope with what their loved ones have done.

But, the train driver saw it and could not stop it... and ultimately has to live with the horror of it for the rest of his/her life. The commuters on the platform witnessed it all, including the most horrifying aspects of it, where the suicide's body is destroyed by the train. They have to live with it for the rest of their lives too.

As for the inconvenience to commuters. I have to ask you one question and I want you to answer it honestly. How many of you who've been delayed going home from work, or to wherever you were heading, stood on the platform when you heard the announcement 'due to passenger action', and thought 'Oh, that poor man/woman; what a terrible waste of life'... as you morally should have?

How many of you actually stood there and moaned inside about how much of a delay this person was going to cause? And how inconvenient it was to you and everyone else? How many of you thought the word 'selfish'?

We deal with death in many different ways. Another person's death can be a blip to you. It can be a nuisance and no more... or even an inconvenience; spoiling your evening. But it is a person dying. Someone just like you.

You've thought the same kind of thoughts whenever you've been held up on the motorway due to a crash; an incident in which someone may have died. You've been irritated by the selfishness of individuals whose life-crises have stopped you doing what you want with your life.

It's all very human, you know. Live with it; get used to it and stop, for Pete's sake, making other people's rash comments (including mine) seem so important that they become 'offensive'.

Oh and you may not comment on this if you've never commuted by train, nor ever been a driver on a motorway.



Josie said...

I totally disagree with the concept that suicide is selfish. Once you're at the point of being willing to kill yourself in such a way (and you have to be far gone mentally to throw yourself in front of a train), you're beyond having any rational thoughts. Being mentally ill is, by definition, about thinking irrationally.

When it comes to being held up by a person on the tracks (i travel by train regularly) i DO think of the person, and then secondly my own inconvenience. I think it's unlikely i am unusual in thinking this way.

I've lost people to suicide. My uncle actually took his life by lying on a train track. Though i have sympathy for everyone else left behind or affected, those who take their lives (including my uncle) are not selfish.
I have also been suicidal during a few years of severe mental health problems. My memories of that time are fractured and a lot of what i do remember thinking and doing were utterly irrational and horrifying. And some of the things i did hurt others, but i had no idea at the time. For example when i was overdosing on anti-psychotics i genuinely (absolutely GENUINELY) believed everyone would be better off without me; i was shocked when my family told me otherwise.

You and Clarkson are very lucky to have never been so horrifically ill that throwing yourself in front of a train starts feeling like a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, well said mate.!!!

Xf said...


Did I say that it was selfish? I said that the word people thought of was selfish. And, much as I support your point of view and understand your perspective; it is your perspective and that which is only shared by others who've been through the same experience.

Clarkson says a lot more than he should and he often blurts out things without thinking of others but he is entitled to do so; it is his God-given right to speak freely. It is entirely up to the person hearing or reading his opinions to be emotionally charged by them or not; that does not mean, however, that he should be burned at the stake!

I wrote a lot about suicide and have looked at it in some depth over the years; and how do you know anything about my life and what I may or may not have contemplated at times? My point of view may be entirely constructed from personal experience; I just may not share your opinion on it.

I do wonder why people kill themselves in the way that they do. Lying on rail tracks or leaping in front of a train... or hanging. I have seen the aftermath of the most bizarre methods of suicide and none of them make any sense; so I do understand that the person who carried out the act was not in a sane place.

My post was not about mocking suicide or death. It was about the irrational, emotional and knee-jerk reactions of people when something is said (not done) that they disagree with.

Anonymous said...

I never understood people in london complaining or running for the tube. They come like every 5 minutes?

Mjolinir said...

In the unlikely event that persons condemning Jeremy Clarkson for 'what he said on The One Show' have any interest in KNOWING what he said- see “Clarkson’s Strike Gaffe: The Full Transcript”

IF you think you can stand a little more of a rather 'different' JC in full flow - and what he finds 'real' - try

Xf said...

I thought I'd put the link in the post... obviously not! How silly of me.

Ta for that!!

Anonymous said...

As a person who commutes by train and car, and who has cleaned up after a violent suicide attempt of an immediate family member, I was not offended by your post. I was touched that you reminded people that there is a human behind the chaos. And I appreciate that you pointed out the hypocrisy of those who criticize others yet waste no time examining their own behavior and attitudes.

I wish people could discuss difficult or painful topics without others expecting them to be either politically correct or only say things with which they agree.

Anonymous said...

I've been on a train that hit a person on the trcak, not a jumper but someone who'd managed to get onto the track, and the drivers voice when he came on the tanoy to say what had happened isn't something that I'll forget. A friends brother saw someone commit suicide in front of a train that wasn't stopping at that station, not much of them left to pick up, and totally horrible for the innocent people that had to witness it.

I think most people that regularly commute in London have joked about a "jumpers timetable". When your journey in to work, or home, is severely delayed then you don't think about what might be behind the "passenger action" you just think FFS, I want to get home. After all, passenger action isn't limited to suicide.

Anonymous said...

About 20 years ago a rumour went round Birmingham that, after a person had killed themselves in this manner, seven trains were permitted to continue along that track before the line was shut.

This still horrifies me. So when a delay happens I wait quietly. I will not 'walk on a corpse' to stay 'on time'.

J said...


As a Tech from up north I've seen my share of suicide aftermath, and as the son of a father who 'decided his own time' I'd like to thank you for reminding people that there is a human story behind each death, other than the story of how it effects them.

I don't think all suicide is selfish, but Josie also misses the point that suicide is not automatically a mental health matter. My Father was in full sound mind and body. I can't help agreeing that retirement with my step-mum would be a fate worse than death. He choose his method carefully, put his plans in place, and left his goodbyes, he did not disrupt thousands of other peoples lives by his actions.

I guess my point is that suicide is not selfish, but that doesn't mean the method isn't, there are a thousand ways to die in your own bed, many available off the shelf at your local Tesco. I feel a suicide such as by train is as much about making a mark on others as it is about the party involved. Both on and off the job I've dealt with death, first hand, even professionals are effected by it. A person committing public suicide takes a little bit of the others involved with them, that is selfish.


Anonymous said...

I quite agree with your concern for the train driver - in Australia I once saw some kids playing chicken with a train coming into the station. They ducked to safety at the last minute, but the driver couldn't tell if he'd hit them, and I have never seen anyone looking so grey and shocked even when he knew they were actually OK. He could hardly stand.

Xf said...


I'm sorry to hear that you've gone through this but you have said what I meant to say in a more poignant manner, so thank you for that.

Sophx said...

J, I couldn't agree more. I think it was last year I was on my way back up to Liverpool when at least half a dozen trains were cancelled, stranded on the lines and replacement transport was filled to bursting with those who were meant to be on those trains and the inevitable backlog.

I later found out this was from a lady who locked herself in a train loo and set fire to herself in a suicide attempt. Yes, I'll admit my first thought was indeed- SELFISH. Selfish because all those people on the same train (in motion, mind you)be they men women or children didn't choose to potentially be burned alive as they travelled home. Luckily they all escaped, but what if they hadn't? Why couldn't she have taken pills, I thought? Or called the Samaritans instead of endangering innocent people (and yes, inconveniencing thousands of people and putting them out of pocket as well). She could have killed someone who didn't want to be killed and why should it be her choice whether someone else gets caught in the crossfire?

Good post fx, thanks for this blog and I apologise for the rant XD