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Weekly shames Tweeters who mocked rail death victim

A weekly newspaper has named and shamed commuters who took to Twitter to mock a man who was killed after being struck by a train.

The Brentwood Gazette published a front page story alongside a stream of tweets from angry commuters delayed by around three hours while staff recovered the body of 51-year-old Neil Roeper on Monday morning.

Despite the tragic nature of the situation, several railway commuters posted messages venting their anger over the death of the father-of-two for making them late to work

The town’s name of ‘Brentwood’ began to trend on the social media site after around 1,000 messages were posted in the aftermath of the incident.

The Gazette names and shames the commuters on its front page

One user wrote:  “News says “killed”. I Don’t care tho not when It took 4 hours to travel 10 miles.”

Another who describes himself as “untouchable” posted: “And to whoever committed suicide in brentwood, I hope you go to hell”.

A Liam Hicks (@LiammmmHicks) wrote: “Nice to know some c**k has jumped infront of a train at Brentwood.. F*****g Mondays. #HangYourself #Selfish”

Lord Lancaster (@R_Lancaster) added: “Someone got hit at Brentwood. Somebody’s going to get hit on this train if it doesn’t move soon.”

Other distasteful comments included commuters who described the man as ‘selfish’ and complained his death had delayed journeys to work.

The incident was followed up with the Gazette running a front page story which included an interview with Jessica Larsh, 25, whose brother Rodney who was found dead at Shenfield railway station over Christmas last year.

News editor Alan Woods said that the response of readers to the front page story had been positive.

“The Gazette Twitter feed was buzzing on Monday following the tragic rush hour incident at Brentwood station, with commuters looking to our site for information about the closure of one of the busiest routes from Essex into the capital,” he said.

“There were several messages of condolence from users and tweets saying their thoughts were with the family of the person who died – but unfortunately, these were a minority.

“We soon found, through a search of our town’s name that trended for a period of time, there were some truly horrible messages.

“Some of the tweets were heartless, thoughtless and saddening. The edition simply held a mirror up to incident, which is how we’d hoped the headline would portray it. It definitely highlighted the dark side of social media.”

The newspaper featured five of the most offensive tweets on its front page and a handful more were published across a double-page spread inside.

“It was also decided to publish a selection of the ‘nice tweets,’ expressing sympathy, as well as the damning, negative messages,” added Alan.

“The feedback we have received via telephone, email and the social networks has been generally positive.

“Our front page has been described as ‘thought-provoking’ and I have taken calls from readers this week who say they don’t usually buy the Gazette, but were drawn in by the tweets on the front page.”

After initially declaring the stretch of track a crime scene, British Transport Police confirmed Mr Roeper’s death was not being treated as suspicious.

An inquest into Mr Roeper’s death is due to open today.

26 comments

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  • February 14, 2014 at 8:44 am
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    Dear me. What have we come to? Hard hearted, self centred, full of their own importance, these passengers should be ashamed of themselves. We’ve all been there – delayed getting home due to drunks on trains, or worse, some poor tortured soul who could see no other way out – and cursed our misfortune under our breath. But instead of biting their lip, these tiny-brained travellers have to “take to Twitter” to spill their guts about the way someone’s death affects their pathetic world. Get a life – this poor man has lost his.

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  • February 14, 2014 at 9:12 am
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    Excellent idea. The moronic scum deserve to be identified for their friends, family and employers to see. Only a pity that more media don’t do likewise.

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  • February 14, 2014 at 10:00 am
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    Would be interesting to hear from Alan Woods if any of the Tweeters have had the nerve to complain to the paper. Cracking front page, that one.

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  • February 14, 2014 at 11:04 am
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    Before they get on their high-horse too much, it would be interesting to know if the Brentwood Gazette read the Samartians suicide reporting guidelines before they put such a story on the front page.

    For instance, point number four: “Steer away from melodramatic depictions of suicide and its aftermath.”

    And point number five: “Aim for non-sensationalising sensitive coverage.”

    Were they really interested in challenging stigma and ensuring they covered a complex and sensitive issue appropriately? Or did they just want to sell papers?

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  • February 14, 2014 at 11:11 am
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    Good one. Pity their real names are not available. Hunt them down…..

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  • February 14, 2014 at 11:40 am
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    On of the best front pages I’ve seen in a long time

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  • February 14, 2014 at 12:22 pm
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    Lots of organisations have guidelines, ‘Hmm’. Some call them ‘policies’. For instance, our local authority has a policy that journalists should not call elected members directly without first asking permission from the press office.

    It is not our job to observe other people’s rules. Those are their rules, not ours. Our rules are comprised of legislation and the PCC code.

    The suggestion that this front page would provoke somebody else into committing suicide is foolish.

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  • February 14, 2014 at 12:36 pm
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    Thing is, most people would agree with the Tweeters’ sentiments.

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  • February 14, 2014 at 2:33 pm
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    In response to Hmm, I believe most right-thinking people would be appalled by the behaviour of these tweeting twits. And most newspapers, given the same opportunity and using their noddle, would have treated the story in the same way. Of course the Gazette wanted to sell more papers, that’s obvious. But the bold way the story was covered highlighted the sick and selfish sentiments many people exhibit today. They’re the same morons who’d walk past a scumbag mugging a pensioner and then tweet a picture of the old lady in tears two minutes later. Probably with a hilarious hashtag accompanying their tweet.

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  • February 14, 2014 at 2:38 pm
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    Sometime people ask me what socialism is , well it’s the opposite to those people on the front page. This, unfortunately is the type of society we have created, damd Tories!

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  • February 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm
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    Someone threw himself in front of a train when my wife was coming home from London recently. Her train was stranded for nearly three hours. When she got home she expressed the exact same sentiments as those Tweeters…selfish man, why didn’t he kill himself at home etc. But fortunately, she isn’t on Twitter and doesn’t use social media much at all. So she was able to calm down naturally. I think Twitter makes it all too easy to express emotions you might later regret. It’s the nature of the beast. As for ‘Steve Unite’, if that’s your simplistic view of socialism, I’m glad I’m not a socialist.

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  • February 14, 2014 at 4:01 pm
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    As an ex-rail commuter I can tell you that 95% of us are routine-fixated timeservers (we wouldn’t do it if we were otherwise) in whom frustration always boils just below the surface. I was once on a train that hit someone at the same station where this incident occurred and, believe me, the three-hour delay was intensely irritating. The real issue is one of decent public restraint but modern comms have eroded that. The phones may be smart but look at a lot of their users. Whatever, well done to the news editor for highlighting all this here.

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  • February 14, 2014 at 7:31 pm
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    What a grim, ugly little nation Britain is.
    The twits on Twitter are just another manifestation of our degraded society. These are the same people that idolise trash like Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand. Pathetic rabble.
    Decent people would have sympathy for the victim. The fact that the city drones got to work late is neither here nor there.
    Well done editor for exposing the trolls for what they are…

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  • February 15, 2014 at 10:26 am
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    I applaud you for tackling this. We are becoming a nation of hard hearted people living in social media bubbles – let’s just hope it didnt add to any distress for the family

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  • February 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm
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    Very disappointed to realise I know one of those named and shamed. The poor man, suicide is a last resort for anyone and my thoughts are with his family x

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  • February 15, 2014 at 5:33 pm
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    I was on a train which ran over a guy once. I was in the front carriage and I felt a hard object travel under the wheels of the train. I initially thought that someone’s laptop had gone under the wheels until the driver told us what happened. I had a mixture of emotions, sickness at the realisation of what really happened, I felt so sorry for the driver, I did feel that the guy that committed suicide in such a dramatic way was selfish – not because I was going to be later home but because he chose to end his life using someone else to do it for him. I can appreciate the guy would have had his reasons for doing as he did but he had choice in the manner of his death and he only thought of himself when he did so. I was on the same train six month later when the driver who had taken time off thanked all those who sent him their support – he was really shaken up. So while one may condemn those who tweeted their frustration – maybe having so little room in which to tweet a message hides the bigger picture. I can identify with all the victims of this incident. It is interesting for me to note the reaction of those who have not been in involved in this incident directly have similar reaction to those that have made comments here, the feelings you experience when involved in it are quite different.

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  • February 15, 2014 at 9:17 pm
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    Not every one jumps in front of a train to die, it could of been an accident, unfortunately this attitude has been used a lot over many years at different stations as the commuters see it as inconvenient to them, and no other reason will do. There are such things as accidents/ accidental not just by someone being pushed. It could be where a group or a few individuals choose to cross a line, one makes it the other doesn’t. There are plenty of scenarios. I personally have seen plenty of them and yes quite a few have been deliberate but not all of them. Yes it does cause delays but you are aware that the railway does only have up and down single line service what do you expect no and then.

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  • February 16, 2014 at 9:12 am
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    So putting this article as first page on a Gazette is more sympathetic to this man’s family than a few tweets? It’s unlikely the man’s family would have ever seen the tweets until it was plastered all over the front page of a paper. The journalists and editors are the people who should be named and shamed.
    Furthermore, what’s so damning to call this man selfish? He made the decision to end his life and chose to potentially ruin someone else’s in the process. The poor driver will live with that ordeal forever. And what about the people that have to clean parts of him off the train and track? What about the passengers in the front cart that felt the impact? It’s sad that so many people can be so influenced by what a paper tells you to think

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  • February 16, 2014 at 9:38 am
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    What a troubled man to do something like that, how can people be so heartless to give such terrible comments they are truly selfish, sick, inconsiderate and thoughtless to the persons family. An old comment that used to be voiced is.”they took their own life while the balance of their mind was disturbed”. And that was exactly what must have happened, he made a snap judgement that would hurt and maybe destroy the people who cared for him. God bless him and keep him, at peace now ..My thought go out to his family.

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  • February 16, 2014 at 10:38 am
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    My friend works for British transport police and the biggest sufferers are the drivers who have to deal with what they see & what they have done through no fault of their own, not selfish commuters who are later for work. How would one of these commuters feel if it turned out they knew the deceased? Twitter has brought out the worst In a great deal of people

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  • February 17, 2014 at 2:35 pm
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    I’m more perturbed by the sudden change in tense halfway through the headline than anything else.

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  • February 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm
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    “Roy Challis – I’m more perturbed by the sudden change in tense halfway through the headline than anything else.”

    That says a lot about you.

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  • February 17, 2014 at 4:22 pm
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    I work for Samaritans on the Network Rail Partnership which works to reduce suicides on the railway. Any suicide is a human tragedy and sadly evokes a whole range of emotions and reactions from people.

    As part of our partnership we train frontline railway staff on how to spot and approach a potentially vulnerable person to be able to get them to a place of safety. We also work to support people in the aftermath, families, train drivers, passengers and staff including the staff who deal with social media feeds as they can be as affected by the situation too and often have to deal with other’s frustrations.

    I’d like to remind people that if they have been affected by any suicide then Samaritans is there to support you 24/7 365 on 08457 909090 or email jo@samaritans.org

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  • February 18, 2014 at 11:56 am
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    It’ll definitely get people reading so a job well done, I say.

    You could – if you wanted – get a story every day about a load of hate tweets.
    Easier than trying to get news out of press officers.

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  • February 19, 2014 at 12:02 am
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    There are some appalling human beings out there and most of them frequent Twitter. Well done the Gazette, good job.

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  • March 3, 2014 at 2:53 pm
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    It is well known that these types of suicide are not pre meditated unlike,say, a hanging where a note is often found. It is a spur of the moment decision for many and often one they would have not taken if someone had tried to stop them. So it can’t really be called a selfish act – they are not thinking straight at the time and are probably emotionally numb therefore not having regard for others. I would hate to be in such a dark place and I am sure those tweeters would too. They are the selfish ones for only thinking of themselves.

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