On this very website http://urthevoice.co.uk/coroner-raises-possible-link-benefits-suicides as well as on similar websites http://calumslist.org & https://welfaretales.wordpress.com/category/suicide/ all too frequently sad stories of real people who are on benefits are committing suicide are hitting the various forms of media.
In Derby a couple of years ago there was a gentleman who I knew quite well while on the trust’s governing body, one day I opened up the local paper to read about how he ended his life, I believe the fact he was on benefits was a contributing factor, this was a little too close for comfort, you never know when life could take an unexpected turn or actually how long a person could live with debt, depression or other difficult situations for or what the actual trigger is to do the inevitable, he was campaigning to change the system he felt so failed by and then paid the ultimate price, this did hit the local mental health community hard at the time, life goes on for others, for him it doesn’t.
One person’s day-to-day activities can affect another’s to the point of no return so it is important people in statutory services and those involved in a person’s life are very sensitive and mindful of how they interact, the words they say and how they behave because this could be the last trigger that pushes someone where they just cannot take it any more, therefore those on benefits should not be looked down on but find ways to walk alongside people to returning to contributing to society more making up for lost time while they may have felt they are on the scrap heap or a burden to society.
There are reported numbers on average of 4,000 people as a direct result of being on benefits have committed suicide but this number does vary depending upon which source you look at, believe and for which period you look at but for me one person is one too many, you read their stories and just consider what kind of life they could have had and if this was avoidable, in many cases quite possibly so and what lessons are the government department responsible actually learning to prevent this from occurring ever again yet it appears to be happening more and more so this needs to be challenged at the highest levels and what government ministers are doing to eradicate and prevent this from occurring.
We need to morn and have a heart of compassion when people commit suicide within us to help the most fragile in our society and support people instead of making people’s problems even worse then they already are, this is a whole community issue but the statutory authorities play a key role in this.
It is the impact on those around them and the one’s that often do not appear to care are those to whom issue the benefits in the first place as they just ‘administer’ what the government set out but it is on a local level how the advisors and those involved in a person’s life can work together maybe with other agencies better to protect the most fragile of people on low income irrespective of if they are perceived strong on the outside you do not really know how this really affects them on the inside especially mentally.
Some people are lucky they have good support around them others are very isolated, we need to have people working in services that do not give up on people, turn people away but allow them to be able to deal with their issues, it is the atmosphere to how some services engage can determine outcomes for the better or the worst.
We need to have a real heart for vulnerable people on benefits that they have a lot to offer society, with the right support and approach future suicides could be avoided however we need to keep raising these issues publicly when they occur, people are not on the scrap heap of life, some people never think being on any form of benefit may happen to them and when it does it could be one of the biggest wake up calls and life changing moments they experience loosing their employment so when in work people should not take it for granted as the opposite could be a lot worse.
One minister said “A disability or health condition should not dictate the path a person is able to take in life or in the work place”, they go onto say “What should count is a person’s talent’s, their determination and aspiration to succeed” is a very nicely worded statement, without wanting to get onto the political bandwagon ahead of a general election the incumbent PM is talking a lot about mental health, putting additional measures in place which is very nice to hear, it does not change how many people have died as a result of being on benefits in general and disability benefits this will take a whole cultural change commencing with the DWP infiltrating into the wider community.
There are various sources where by people have had reported mental health issues and being prescribed anti-depressants as well as taking overdoses as a result of being on benefits, these figures need to be reported on more in the press to really highlight mental health & benefits as they are so inextricably linked.
We should be very concerned at how many cases on either side end up in court, the independent case examiner, Public Health Ombudsmen or tribunals has on a person’s mental health and if this would or could lead to suicide or serious mental health issues if the very problem they faced could be dealt with better in the first instance and prevented.
How many people on benefits call the Samaritans or any other mental health charity helpline in a given year anonymously stating that they are feeling suicidal as a result of being on benefits and how the system is treating them would be really good to hear from these charities to put this more into the public domain to see how widespread this really is and if there could be better recording systems of capturing this data?
How many people who pay for counselling through the BACP notify a counsellor that they are feeling suicidal as a result of being on benefits or is suicide and benefits still taboo subjects amongst people who are going through turbulent and difficult times?
How many people actually report this to their GP, mental health or other healthcare provider including social services and should this be better captured the data around linking this to benefits if vulnerable people actually feel they can be honest with such professionals without their being adverse consequences to really get a better picture of who bad this really is?
What suicide awareness training do DWP and medical benefit assessors actually receive to be able to spot this but more importantly identify it early so this does not get to a point where the inevitable actually occurs?
Are there safeguards to prevent it from happening rather than when it starts to happen to then call on others to intervene causing more problems for the patient?
Are there early warning signs in terms of a persons behaviour, interaction and approach that would clearly state they are in distress and how DWP staff could prevent this from happening without necessarily having to be a burden on the health or social services?
When a suicide occurs those in the person’s professional care should be interviewed, held to account and are the right questions being made if this is a total joined up approach actually works and where these is failure there should be greater consequences for those involved including the use of barring under DBS more.
Life is short, lets not force someone to cut it short, there is no going back, let us not even put another human being to contemplate this in the first place let alone go through with us, each person has a life and just because someone is on benefits should not be a reason why because they struggle emotionally and financially there is no way out of their difficulties.
Each of us has a life expectancy and one day we will all face God for the life we have lived, for those who we cannot turn back the clock, what was their legacy and how can we learn something from what they went through, our days are numbered but let us love and enable people to overcome their difficulties and no more suicides occur as a result of being on benefits.
How many more casualties will occur especially now in a couple of days time June 9th 2017 we have a potential new government on vulnerable adults entrapped in the benefits system and how do we avoid this from happening so broken lives of those who struggle can have a better quality of life and no more people commit suicide?
What are your thoughts on this matter?
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