How do you take in your news? Once upon a time I used to pick up two or three newspapers every morning and read the entire things on my way to work. My commute was far too long. But I also had an interest in what was going on around me that has shrunk as my personal world has grown. There are more distractions now in the form of partners, friends, work, volunteering, studying. And it's so much easier to access the odd news story here and there - read some headlines on my phone while I'm on the train; skim the front page of the beeb in between tasks at work; see what people are linking to from twitter on my lunch break - than it is to take one news source and digest the whole thing in one sitting. In my early twenties I worked briefly with (much older) a media consultant who was astonished to hear that I read the majority of my news online. I think today I would be more astonished to meet someone in that age group who doesn't.
But it's not infallible.
My inner world is a better place since I stopped reading the Metro. That's not why I stopped - I did so because I kept thinking 'I have no idea what's going on in the world â oh I know, I'll pick up this free paper and find out' and then getting to the end of my tube ride and realising I was none the wiser. It doesn't fulfil its function. But, you know, it's widely read and it helps people pass the time and I don't really have a strong reaction to it. Apart from yesterday.
There was that tiniest but brightest of morning London miracles - a free seat on the tube! Free apart from a copy of the Metro, so I picked it up to move it and found myself reading it in the way that I've always been unable to resist reading any text in my vicinity. And then, instead, found myself struggling not to cry on the tube.
It wasn't the news itself - about the death of Robin Williams, which I had heard the day before. That is tragic news, and I can only hope his family can find the space and time to grieve and heal. No, it was the level of detail the article included.
I was thinking about how well known it is that irresponsible reporting of suicide often triggers attempts by other people.
I was thinking about that as I sat on the tube. I was thinking about all the people I'd seen on social media the day before, talking about their own experiences of mental health problems and sharing tips and sources of support and grief and anger. I was thinking about the last person I know to try what the paper I'd just picked up was describing. I was thinking about how well known it is that irresponsible reporting of suicide often triggers attempts by other people.
The Metro wasn't, apparently, the only paper to take such an approach to reporting this news. I almost feel like its worse when its in a free paper that is widely distributed that you don't have to walk into a newsagent an hand over money to read - but of course it's equally horrible in every case. Every case of putting the possibility of profits before people's lives.
Mind have expressed their disappointment in the reporting, a much more restrained word than I would go for, so well done to them for that.
If you feel similarly, you can complain to the PCC here.
And let's all remember that mental illness can affect anyone, and we debase ourselves by not showing humanity and compassion.