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From Iain Donaldson, a Manchester Liberal Democrat Learn more

Political Perspective: Suicide is not a joking matter

by Iain Donaldson on 2 August, 2015

The Guardian has published a picture of the former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,  Nick Clegg standing on a Tube Platform with the caption:

Nick Clegg considering his options on the platform at Turnpike Lane as the train bears down on him.

I could easily be writing about the many reasons why Nick Clegg would not be contemplating such action, but actually neither I nor the Guardian know what Nick Clegg or any other citizen might be contemplating deep down. What we do know is that death by suicide is increasing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and that death by suicide affects thousands of people, both the victims and their families and friends, throughout the UK every year.

A casual glance at a commuter on a railway platform can not tell you if their intent is suicidal or not, only their actions can tell you that and by the time they take that action it can be too late to prevent it. Indeed the only known predictor of Suicide is self-harm, and all that it can predict is increased risk it can not predict outcome.

When you have known suicide, and many of us have known suicide in our communities or in our families, you know the shadow it casts. The thoughts of could I have done more, could I have helped more, and the inevitable thoughts of who might it take from us next. Knowing how destructive suicide can be for a serious national newspaper to make light of the condition in this way is unforgivable.

If the editorial staff at the Guardian allowed this posting to go ahead seeing it as black humour then they need to consider the potential impact of that humour. Would they have made light in this way of potential Cancer victims, or of victims of homicide, I think not.

Many good journalists in our newspapers and other media report sympathetically and with caution on suicide and self harm. They try to ensure that their articles capture the urgency, need and desperation of the act. All of this good work can be undermined by one inappropriate or bad post, and this particular post and caption by the Guardian is inexcusable.

I hope that The Guardian removes the post and apologises for the distress it may cause to people currently living with suicide and self harm in their lives.

ps: I have not posted a link to the Guardian article or copied their picture here as I am hoping that they will see sense and take them down from the site, and that such a link would prove redundant.