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73-year-old Valerie Grant walked in front of a train on 23rd April after a string of benefits and support were taken from her severely autistic son James, 37.
Shocking removal of support
In the months leading to Mrs Grant’s suicide, Mr Grant was devastated by the removal of his disability benefits.
He had his support system completely stripped away from him by the Department for Work and Pensions. The inquest heard:
- He lost his work placement as a bin man
- He was told he would lose his disability allowance
- He discovered he did not qualify for PIP (personal independence payments)
- He was informed that he no longer qualified for day care
- He was turned down for accommodation
Mrs Grant had a history of depression. On the 10th January, she scored 96% for the severity of her mental health state after telling her GP she was suffering suicidal thoughts.
Following this, she was given a routine appointment which she did not attend.
When interviewed by mental health workers, she tragically asked:
What have I got to do? Top myself to get help for my son?
An inquest in Cannock concluded ‘she had taken her own life whilst suffering from depression.’
Coroner Andrew Haigh accepted that lack of support was the main issue. He said:
There were a number of agencies involved, but nobody took a lead. I do have concerns about the lack of support, but I don’t think there’s any one agency that I can write to to try to remedy this,
Mr Haigh has previously raised concerns about the possible link between benefits and suicides, calling it a “worthwhile issue to explore”.
In an emotional outburst at the hearing, Mrs Grant’s stepson, Stuart Grant, shouted:
It is just being swept under the carpet. One agency blames another agency and they can get away with it.
Sadly, Mrs Grant’s decision to end her life shortly after such dismal decisions by the DWP is not an isolated incident.
A disabled mother, Susan Roberts, recently placed a DWP letter that rejected her PIP application and a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ note on her bedroom dresser before taking a fatal dose of morphine. She also left an 11-page letter that she had written to benefits chiefs, detailing her suffering.
In another case, a family accused the DWP’s actions as being the “trigger” for 42-year-old Jodey Whiting taking her own life after her benefits were stopped. She had missed a health review and the family believe it was the “extreme stress” caused by the DWP’s decision to cut her off that pushed her over the edge.
Just two weeks ago, Evolve Politics reported of 54-year-old David Metcalf, who was found dead on a beach after asking “What’s the point?”. His sickness benefits had been removed and he had been declared fit for work, despite suffering with extreme anxiety, stress and panic attacks for nine years.
A UN inquiry has found that the UK is failing to uphold disabled people’s rights across a range of areas from education, work and housing to health, transport and social security.
It is clear that those affected are struggling to cope with the pressure the government are putting them under. Some can see no other option but to end their life, and this is despicable. The government cannot be allowed to continue getting away with it.
If you, or somebody you know, cannot cope, please act immediately:
- The Samaritans can be contacted for free at any time by ringing 116 123 from any phone.
- By volunteering with The Samaritans, you can help support people across the UK and Ireland when they are going through a difficult time in their life.
- If you or someone you know are facing a PIP assessment, be prepared. The CAB offer invaluable advice.
- Carers UK offer a support system for carers.
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