British Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson is embroiled in further controversy after branding people who throw themselves under trains as “selfish”.
The 51-year-old, who was forced to apologise this week after saying all striking workers should be shot, reiterated his view that those who commit suicide at railway stations cause “immense” disruption for commuters.
“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,” Clarkson said in his column in the Sun newspaper.
“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 per cent 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 argued that following a death, trains should continue on their journeys as soon as possible.
“The train cannot be removed nor the line reopened until all of the victim’s body has been recovered. And sometimes the head can be half a mile away from the feet,” Clarkson adds.
“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.”
The comments sparked criticism among suicide and mental health charities.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health group Mind, described the comments as “extraordinarily tasteless”, especially in the wake of the death of footballer Gary Speed.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live it was “extraordinarily tasteless in its tone. I think there will be many people who have lost loved ones to suicide and people who have contemplated suicide that will think it is in extremely bad taste.
“It stands out like a sore thumb from what is increasingly a more supportive approach to suicide by the media.
“People will feel like he is trivialising the subject and dismissing people who have taken their own lives.”
Farmer added: “This is a man who really doesn’t understand what he is talking about.”
The latest controversy comes in the wake of comments Clarkson made during BBC1’s The One Show in which he said striking workers “should be shot”.
Speaking about public sector workers who took industrial action, he said: “I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.
“I mean, how dare they go on strike when they’ve got these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?”