This World Suicide Prevention Day, we share with you an article from September’s issue of UNITE which highlights a number of deaths which came as a result of the Government’s austerity cuts – some of which were suicides. If you are dealing with suicidal thoughts, please do not struggle alone. There is always support out there for you, be it in the form of a charity or by reaching out to a friend or family member. Additionally, reaching out to someone to simply check in on them can be a life saver.
As Esther McVey’s DWP launches their secret study to find if austerity has been harmful to people in poverty, we remember some of the many people who have died as a result of their malicious practices.
Julia Kelly, 39
Founder of chronic pain charity Away with Pain, the coroner who lead the inquest into Julia’s suicide said she did so because she feared the DWP would be stopping her benefits. She received a letter from the Government demanding she repay £4000 in backdated payments. On the same day as the results of her inquest were published, Ian Duncan Smith said that stopping people’s benefits is “compassionate.”
Image: ©Away With Pain
Linda Wootton, 49
After her second double lung and heart transplant in 1989, Linda’s body rejected her new organs, resulting in her living with renal failure, high blood pressure, regular blackouts, and a reliance on anti-rejection drugs. Atos ruled her fit to work, and her £108.05 per week benefits were stopped. Nine days later, she died in hospital from a chest infection while trying to appeal the decision.
Image: ©John Alevroyiannis/Sunday Mirror
Mark Wood, 44
Mark starved to death four months after his benefits were stopped. He weighed 5st 8lbs when he died. Atos had found him fit for work which prompted the Jobcentre to put a stop to his sickness benefits. Mark’s doctor, Nicholas Ward, wrote a letter to the Jobcentre informing them that he was “extremely unwell and absolutely unfit for any work whatsoever,” which was ignored.
Image: ©Family of Mark Wood
Paul Reekie, 48
A legendary figure in the 90s Scottish counter culture movement, Paul committed suicide at 48. Although he left no suicide note, he laid out two letters from the Department of Work and Pensions on a table in his Edinburgh flat: one informed him that his housing benefit would be stopped, while the other told him that he would no longer receive incapacity benefits.
Image: ©The Estate of Paul Reekie
Lawrence Bond, 56
On his way home from the Jobcentre, where he was declared fit for work, Laurence had a fatal heart attack. He had a number of health problems, including difficulty breathing and reduced mobility. Following a work capability assessment, his ESA was cut. He had submitted two appeals against the assessment and was awaiting the outcome of the second at the time of his death.
Elaine Morrall, 38
Elaine’s body was found in her freezing cold flat, wrapped in a coat and scarf. She could not afford to pay bills and would only put the heating on when her children were home. Her ESA and out-of-work sickness benefits had both been stopped. While in Elaine was in hospital, her mother was informed that being in intensive care was not a good enough reason to miss a universal credit interview.
- Citizen’s Advice
Citizen’s Advice can guide you on where to go if your benefits are stopped or if you’re sanctioned, and the best way to get them back.
If you don’t know how to start your benefits appeal, Advicenow is a great resource for appeals, and how to win them.
If you’re feeling low, suicidal or struggling to cope, or just in need of someone to talk to, contact Samaritans. Don’t struggle alone.
If your benefits have been cut, speak to Turn2Us – they can help you get grants and find additional benefits to keep you on track.
Shelter can help you when you’re struggling with rent money. They can give you advice, support and guidance on keeping afloat.
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