The BBC have found that suicide rates are higher under a Tory government. This, they found, was certainly the case under Margaret Thatcher's time in office. (see here). The 10 cases below add to the statistical evidence included that this same trend is returning.
1. Hull’s Elaine Christian aged 57 slashed her wrist ten times and jumped into a river and drowned on route to a disability assessment to decide if her benefits should be taken from her. (see link)
2. Northants’ Paul Wilcoxen aged 33 took his own life by hanging himself in a forest as he had spent a summer searching for work. His suicide letter expressed worries about government cuts. (see link)
3. Sunderland’s Leanne Chambers aged 30 drowned herself after receiving a letter saying that she was fit to return to work. She had battled depression for years. (see link)
4. Leith’s acclaimed writer 48 year old Paul Reekie took his own life one month after George Osborne’s emergency budget in June 2010 announced a crackdown on welfare. Letters informing Reekie that he was to have his benefits cut were found close to his bodily person on death. (see link)
5. Knightsbridge’s Michael Mackay-Lewis aged 41 jumped head first from a fourth floor after suffering depression from business failures having first been made redundant. (see link)
6. London’s Jack Shemtob aged 53 jumped from Transport for London’s headquarters after hearing of his redundancy. Shemtob had worked for the company for 30 years before he received news he was to lose his job as part of a cost cutting exercise. (see link)
7. Manchester mum of two Linda Knott aged 46 killed herself by overdose after learning that she was to be made redundant from her council job. (see link)
8. Helen & Mark Mullins both aged 48 killed themselves together in a suicide pact because they had become so poor as a result of Helen losing her DLA and having their daughter removed from custody. The family, unable to afford a fridge, used to hang bags of food in the garden to keep them cold. (see link)
9. Wandsworth’s Richard Sanderson a 44 year old former pilot took his life after he feared his family would be made homeless due to a cut in his housing benefit because of his inability to find work. (see link)10. A woman wrote to DPAC to inform them that her 33 year old sister had committed suicide after first failing to kill herself by overdose and then jumping to her death. (see link)
According to the office of national statistics, the % of male deaths resulting from intentional self harm (suicide) as a proportion of the overall deaths resulting from injury and poisoning reached a four year high in 2010. We cannot know the motivation for these men who committed suicide, simply that as a proportion of external deaths, they have been rising.
According to the office of national statistics, the % of female deaths resulting from intentional self harm (suicide) as a proportion of the overall deaths resulting from injury and poisoning reached a four year high in 2010. We cannot know the motivation for these women who committed suicide, simply that as a proportion of external deaths, they have been rising.
The list above shows ten very tragic cases where loved ones took their lives because they feared impending cuts to benefits, pay or indeed employment. Needless to say, this is an unimaginable tragedy that requires the greatest sensitivity. In many cases suicide letters told of fears of future work assessments or were reactions to notifications that benefits were to be removed. In other cases, impromptu decisions to take one's life followed the casual conversation that revealed redundancies. In all cases, I got the feeling that what was missing was a dose of humanity. There must be a better way to tell someone they are sacked than a sneaky chat over a coffee. There must be a better way to handle the removal of benefits, the summary work ability assessments, than simple notification letters. It strikes me that what we need are a dedicated personnel who have the subtly and nuance to deliver bad news in a way that does not lead one to conclude that all hope is lost. Hope, of course, is never lost, but the challenge must surely be in finding a successful way of communicating that to people like those listed above.
Article by E Charles The Green Benches