10/01/16 Amazon UK’s ‘Suicide Watch’ T-shirts, an email to their chief executive, Christopher North. Please note, this blog contains pictures that you may find triggering. 

Mr Christopher North, Chief Executive of Amazon UK

There’s clearly a gap in your Market

Dear Mr North, 

I’m writing in the hope that, by now, the issues surrounding the sale of some bizarrely shocking T-shirts, that have been sold via Amazon UK, have been brought to your attention. 

In case you’ve missed it, here’s the link to the sale of the ‘Suicide watch’ t-shirts on Amazon 

Warning – this link has images that may be triggering

http://www.amazon.co.uk/MegaCotton-Suicide-Unisex-T-Shirt-Pixel-Turquoise-Small/dp/B014KWX7US/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1452247767&sr=8-6&keywords=suicide%20watch%20t%20shirt

If, as I would hope, this link is dead, here is a picture of the garment for sale on the website. 

I appreciate that, as the head of such a huge corporation, you can’t cast your eye over each and every item you sell. 

That said, given your position in the organisation, you must be held accountable. 

I’d assumed there must be procedures and policies in place at Amazon that would prevent the sale of products that are as hateful and as triggering as this. 

It’s clear that, if such policies exist, they haven’t been adhered to – and that must reflect on the culture of what is acceptable in your organisation.

I can only imagine the thought processes that must have been in place to deem the sale of these t-shirts acceptable….

Perhaps it was seen as a bit of a laugh, a bit edgy maybe, where displaying such a contentious message was seen as an expression of art? 

Perhaps all, perhaps none of these – I find it very difficult to get into the mindset of someone who would pedal such an image in the hope of a profitable return, whilst ignoring the potential impact it may have on many people. 

I write to you as a mental health campaigner, as a man who has had his head in a noose, and as a man who has a severe and enduring mental health problem.

Every year over 6000 people take their own lives in the UK. 75% of whom are men. 

It is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.

Please take time to digest this.

Around one in four people in the UK will experience some form of mental health problem in any given year. That’s over 15 million people – many of whom will be affected by suicidal ideation. 

I have been campaigning now for 5 years. People often tell me their biggest problem isn’t their mental health problem, but the stigma they feel is attached, by society, to their condition.

Products like this only add to that stigma – phrases like ‘it’s only a bit of fun’, ‘don’t take yourself so seriously’, ‘why are you making such a big thing of it?’ only add to the discrimination that people in our lovely country experience every day. 

This is a top – down issue. You need to lead by example. Consult with our national anti-stigma organisations, SeeMe in Scotland,  or Time To Change  in England. 

Find out what the issues surrounding mental health stigma are, and what you can do as one of the UK’s largest employers to tackle them.

Then train your staff. 

This goes so much further than simple censorship. Such behaviour implies that it’s not the deed itself that’s seen as the problem, but being caught. 

This is a great opportunity for you to help us to make a noise about mental health stigma, to lead by example, and most importantly become part of the conversation we need to have about mental ill health.

I look forward to hearing from you

Yours sincerely 

Chris Young 

  

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2 Responses to 10/01/16 Amazon UK’s ‘Suicide Watch’ T-shirts, an email to their chief executive, Christopher North. Please note, this blog contains pictures that you may find triggering. 

  1. looks as if this has been taken down from the Amazon site now. I certainly hope so. well done on your blog posts. I am trying to work out how to follow you.

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