By Isabel Togoh
A bus transporting demonstrators to the People’s Vote march has been condemned for displaying an “appallingly shameful” joke about suicide.
In a now-deleted message, Twitter account Chesterfield EU posted an image of a bus transporting protesters to central London for the 700,000-strong rally on Saturday.
I see this, think of one of my childhood friends who committed suicide a few years ago, and don’t know whether to be angry or cry my eyes out pic.twitter.com/ouSFSpIPZm
— Gareth Milner (@sw1a0aa) October 20, 2018
Words on the side of the bus, which featured branding from campaign group and protest organisers People’s Vote UK, read: “UK now in so much trouble government appointed Suicide Minister!
“Don’t top yourself…demand a People’s Vote.”
Jackie Doyle-Price was earlier this month announced as the first ever government minister for suicide prevention.
Gareth Milner, army veteran and head of digital at think tank CPS, screen-grabbed the tweet before it was deleted and shared a zoomed-in image of the bus.
He tweeted alongside the picture: “I see this, think of one of my childhood friends who committed suicide a few years ago, and don’t know whether to be angry or cry my eyes out.”
Milner told HuffPost UK: “It’s probably one of the subjects that when joked about, gets straight to me.
I’m a strong remain voter and someone who has been affected by both suicide and attempted suicide by loved ones. This poster is appallingly shameful and wrong @peoplesvote_uk
— Henna Rai (@hennaraiB) October 20, 2018
“I spent a bit of time in the forces in the past and have a few mates who have contemplated suicide, it’s always good to talk but never in a jokey way for me.”
Responding to the tweet, Henna Rai said: “I’m a strong remain voter and someone who has been affected by both suicide and attempted suicide by a loved one. This poster is appalling shameful and wrong.”
Peter Ward wrote: “Like you I’ve very recently lost a close friend through depression, this has made me so angry, words can’t even describe what I’d do to whoever authorised such a horrendous advert.”
People’s Vote strongly denied any connection to the poster.
A spokesman for the campaign said: “We have made clear numerous times that this was nothing to do with us. Many people made their own signs because we are a grassroots campaign.
“This one was not authorised or approved by us and we regard it as totally inappropriate.”
The march, which covered the two miles from Park Lane to Parliament Square, drew huge crowds who witnessed speeches from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and several MPs.
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI – this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: [email protected]