In July 1994 the Manics lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Cardiff and, later, to the Priory in London for treatment for self-harm, alcoholism and anorexia. Six months later he disappeared, leaving a notebook containing various lyrics including the words for this song. Vocalist James Dean Bradfield explained to NME May 16, 2009: "There're some people he met when he was in one of the two places having treatment and I think he just digested other people's stories and experiences."
Bassist Nicky Wire admitted to the NME that he "did rearrange a couple of lines to fit." He added: "And the one line that always haunted me, which I don't know how we got in there, was 'salmon pink skinned Mary, still caring'. It reminds me a bit of the play we did in O-Level, An Inspector Calls, when the girl, doesn't she pour bleach, to kill herself, by drinking bleach? I can't quite remember, but it might have something to do with that. I think the title is more scary than the lyric in this one. A lot of people have been shocked by the title. Once again, in inimitable and bizarre Manics way, we just never get shocked by stuff like that."