Monday, 2 November 2009

Sunday World editor defends using 'suicide' pic

The northern editor of the Northern Irish edition of the Sunday World has defended his decision to print a picture of a dead man hanging from a bridge who had apparently taken his own life life. Jim McDowell apologised for any hurt to families who had suffered because of suicide but defended his right to publish the photograph.
McDowell is quoted by BBC News stating: "It was in the public interest. That is what newspapers do. They lift stones and they look underneath the stones and they publish the stories."
He added: "I apologise if relatives of deceased people who took their lives are hurt or distressed by this. I took the decision to run this picture because this poor man had been left hanging in public view for such a long time. It wasn't meant to be voyeurism."
McDowell said the body had been in full public view for three hours and the dead man was not identifiable. The Press Complaints Commission has received 50 complaints about the publication of the picture. The use of the picture was heavily criticised by people on Twitter yesterday.

11 comments:

Jessica said...

this is disgusting! wether he is trying to proove a point or not, NOBODY should have to see the image of somebody who has took there own life in a unfortunate event. Im severely distressed by this mainly because i have been through some of these effects and even now, its not publicity its reality not something for everybody to see, especially to those who were close to that man himself.

Anonymous said...

I feel that the Jim McDowell photograph of the hanging person who committe suicide was most inappropriate. Whereas it is very important that the whole subject of suicide is brought to the surface & directly faced there are very human and appropriate ways that this ought to be carried out.

Anonymous said...

Although I respect your opinions and do not wish to cause an argument I think that printing this picture was a good idea because it shows just how emotionally affecting a thing like scuicide is and this shock tactic may make people think more about the families and friends affected by scuicide. Although maybe the image should of come with a warning beforehand. I am deeply sory for anybody affected by scuicide or indeed this image.

Fred said...

you guys are stuck to far up your own arse's really...
He published a news story that was designed to capture the public's attention and thats exactly what he had done, and by complaining about it the more your getting it publised

Jen said...

I think it's a good idea, yea it wont be nice to see the picture so maybe if they print it in the paper they could put a warning on the front page so people who don't want to look at it will know what page it is on and can avoid it. We've all seen pictures of drug addicts, burn victims, people who have been beaten up, car crashes and extreme sport accidents which are designed to help us avoid doing these things so what's the difference with a picture of suicide? Maybe it will stop other people from doing it by realizing that it's not pretty, it's not cool and it's not an easy way out when life gets a bit crap and you can't be arsed to deal with it. It affects everyone who cares about you and even people who have never met you. They post adverts that say you should think twice before running across a busy road or swallowing an ecstacy tablet so maybe they should post one about thinking twice before you hang yourself from a bridge for everyone to see.

Anonymous said...

I feel that it was most APPROPRIATE. Why should suicide be dealt with "behind closed doors" so to speak? There is still so much stigma surrounding suicide even though the numbers of deaths by suicide have risen. Let's bring our approach and attitudes to suicide into the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

Not saying that I agree that problems should be solved by suicide...

Anonymous said...

I still havent seen the photo and would like to see what all the fuss is about if anyone has it?

Anna said...

Why is it people have a problem with this? Is it because it's a dead person? If so, then think about all the times we have been shown dead soldiers and civilians in war on the news and documentaries. Is it because suicide is still a huge taboo and we prefer to think that our little world is cosy and lovely and nothing bad happens if you don't see it?! Have you thought that by publishing the picture, someone may see it who was thinking about doing the same thing them self, and get put off it because the picture is disturbing. Before anyone says but what if it puts the idea in someone mind to do the same thing. I really think this is unlikely, anyone in the same frame of mind will already be thinking about it if its how they deal with things. When we see things like this we instantly thing of the bad side of the effects, perhaps there can be some good things to come out of it too. Perhaps even if just one person who has been contemplating this them self, decides to get help instead of ending up like this poor man, then the article has served some good.

Andrew Charles said...

This is the sadness and infliction of the general public, while each individual who complains go about their daily lives they live in ignorance of the realities of the world, ignorant that we live a life of torment and sorrows, wake up people we live in a world where war,famine, torture, deprivation and, yes, suicide, is a fact of life, when people stop burying their heads in the sand the world can start, just start, to imagine change
andrew charles artist

richard said...

I'm delighted to see a more balanced and rational approach to the subject. The reaction has been bordering on the hysterical. Yes it was a shocking image but where were the bleeding hearts when newspapers and broadcasters ran pictures of mutilated bomb victims in Irag, public executions in Saudi Arabia, people throwing themselves to their death from the burning World Trade Center, massacre victims in Rwanda, the list is endless. And I don't remember the outcry when I watched pictures of police shovelling body parts into bin liners on Bloody Friday in Belfast, or when two soldiers were dragged from their car stripped and battered to death in west Belfast - all recorded by the media for the world to see, or the numerous occasions when the IRA abducted, tortured and murdered their victims before dumping their bodies on remote country roads - again all faithfully recorded and reproduced in our newspapers. The double standards surrounding this debate are staggering. Nobody has pointed out that thanks to the Sunday World we are now having a debate about one of society's biggest taboo subjects - suicide.