base-jumping

You might have thought that life for a norwegian lesbian would be tickety-boo. The right-on Scandi-style government is on hand to ensure there’s no discrimination. The internet provides plenty of employment opportunities. And they don’t have to sleep with any of those hairy trawlermen.

But no. It turns out that one in five lesbians up there in the frozen north has tried to commit suicide at least once. And the figure’s not much lower for homosexual men.

Now we know that committing suicide is virtually a national sport in Scandinavian countries. In some places it’s even more popular than knitting. But this self-inflicted cull of gay people is truly shocking. And such a waste. I make this vow now. If you are a norwegian lesbian, and life seems unbearable, you can bring your girlfriend 'round to my house any time.

In America suicide is not perceived to be much of a problem, whether you’re a lesbian or not. Perhaps this is because there are so many other interesting ways of going to meet your maker: having one too many puddings and then bursting, being sent to Afghanistan or, if you live in coastal Louisiana, being hit on the head by an oil rig.

Or you could be murdered. In America you can be killed for driving badly, not respecting someone’s jewellery or having the wrong shaped trousers.

And yet, despite this, experts say that for every two homicides in the US there are three suicides. Things are especially bad in Arizona, it seems. Possibly because there are many native americans there who have nothing to do now all the cowboys have gone. Perhaps you might like to give some of them room at your house. I would, but I anticipate being up to here in norwegian lesbians.

So what about Canada? Just last week Vancouver was named by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit as the best city in the world in which to live. It’s even better than Zurich and Melbourne apparently, thanks to low crime, a good infrastructure and a minimal risk of terrorism.

And it’s not just Vancouver. Two other Canadian cities made it into the top 10 as well, making the place sound like some kind of paradise. But where do you suppose you find the highest suicide rate in the world? Well it’s a town in Ontario, actually, where so far this year it’s 470 deaths per 100,000. And to put that in perspective, it would be like 4,700 people a year committing suicide in a city the size of Birmingham.

Meanwhile, across the rest of Canada things are only slightly less grim. Bored perhaps by the lack of crime and the punctuality of the trains, more Canadians top themselves than die in car crashes.

I’m having this canter round the world’s suicide blackspots because an alarming statistic landed on my desk. In Britain the people who take their own life more than anyone else are . . . wait for it . . . vets. Their suicide rate is double that for doctors and four times the national average.

At first this may seem weird. Vets are not stuck in an office all day. They get out, they meet people, they mend horses. It’s not like they have to sit on a reservation all day drinking meths. So why are they all hurling themselves off tall buildings and injecting themselves with eight gallons of horse sedative?

Could it be, I wonder, because behind the bright and breezy aura projected into your sitting room by Rolf Harris, the vet’s life is actually quite bleak. They spend longer at college than doctors, get paid less, and then go through life with their hand up a cow. Worse, the only time they pull it out is to murder some poor child’s sickly pet.

How much fun can that be? Driving up hill and down dale, hitting much loved hamsters and guinea pigs over the head. Dealing with a child’s hysteria as you kill its dog. Everyone is expecting James Herriot to turn up, but instead they get Dr Mengele. The Angel of Death.

My youngest daughter announced a few years ago she’d like to be a vet because she loves animals. She doted on our cats. She even had a collection of what she called her "dead pets". These are various mice and hedgehogs that she finds in the garden. She cried when Geoff, her favourite ladybird, died.

So how’s she going to feel if she achieves her dream and finds that she’s spending her days murdering more wildlife than an entire Spanish fishing fleet? Suicidal I should imagine.

This brings me on to the important question of television vet Trude Mostue. The attractive blonde shot to fame as a host on Vets in Practice but has disappeared from our screens. I do hope she’s okay and not parked at the top of Beachy Head trying to find the right words for her note.

I worry especially because she’s not only a vet but also a norwegian. She’s not a lesbian as far as I know and that’s good because it would make her one of the most high-risk individuals in the civilised world.

Don’t worry though, Trude. If you were a scissor sister I couldn’t promise that I had a cure for your misery. But if you came round to my house you could at least make a middle-aged man very happy.