Suicide 2

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Department for Work and Pensions should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.


Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
I have noticed that when claimants go online when making claims, a box appears that asks the claimant what steps they have taken to find employment.
the box accepts a maximum of 250 characters.

Can you tell me if any claimants have mentioned if they are experiencing any form of suicidal thoughts when giving a response?

If this was the case, would the claimant be contacted prior to anything happening?
Yours faithfully,


GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Published on 08/05/2013 12:00

SOME of the Capital’s most vulnerable residents are being subjected to “enormous avoidable suffering” as a result of fitness-to-work benefits tests, prominent city GPs have said.

The controversial assessments are carried out by private firm Atos on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), to decide eligibility for Employment and 
Support Allowance (ESA).

One Leith doctor said five of his patients had made attempts on their own lives due to the stress of the workplace capability assessments, which can lead to claimants’ benefits being changed or stopped.

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

This was one of the blogs from BLACK TRIANGLE website.
It is truly indicative of the actions of the DWP in the demonisation of the weakest, the disabled.........

Nicola says:
May 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm

My son is suicidal after been refused dla and ESA , the police have been out concerned for his safety , he has nil income and no benefits , he suffers with symptoms of aspergers and ADHD anxiety and depression . His doctors sick notes are been if ignored . Please help he is mentally unstable and 21 now .

These are the pleas of a mother for her sons well being......


GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

And yet another;

paul says:
May 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm

i’m currently awaiting a date for tribunal, having been turned down in the first stage…
i’m stressed up to the limits as i had a break in benefits due to atos(small a) last april(2012) for a few months and the misery that ensued…
i have nothing else to live on and i’m beginning to feel suicidal… if they cut me off entirely.. i’ve had it…


Link to this

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()


Ten days ago Stephanie Bottrill sat in the redbrick terrace house which had been home for 18 years to write notes to her loved ones, the Sunday People reports .

She ripped the pages from a spiral-bound notebook and placed them neatly in little brown envelopes.

There was one for her son. Another for her daughter. Her mother. Friends. And a very special one for the year-old grandson she doted on.

Then in the early hours of last Saturday Stephanie, 53, left her home for the last time, leaving her cat Joey behind as the front-door clicked shut.

She crossed her road in Meriden Drive, Solihull, to drop one of her letters and her house keys through a neighbour’s letterbox. Then she walked 15 minutes through the sleeping estate to Junction 4 of the M6.

And at 6.15am she walked straight into the path of a northbound lorry and was killed instantly. Stephanie Bottrill had become the first known suicide victim of the hated Bedroom Tax.

In the letter to her son, Steven, 27, she had written: “Don’t blame yourself for me ending my life. The only people to blame are the Government.”

Stephanie was tormented over having to find £20 a week to pay for the two under-occupied bedrooms she had been assessed for.

Days before her death she told neighbours: “I can’t afford to live any more.”

Solihull council Labour group leader David Jamieson, who knows the family well, said: “I’m absolutely appalled this poor lady has taken her own life because she was worried how she would pay the Bedroom Tax.

“I hope the Government will take notice and reconsider this policy.”

DWP OPD COO FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment



Please find attached the response to you FOI request.


Yours sincerely,


DWP | Operations Freedom of Information Team


show quoted sections


Dear DWP OPD COO FOI Requests,
I dont find it strange that you are reluctant to admit that clients express suicidal thoughts on your web pages.
You know and i know, it is becoming more commonplace due to the demonisation of the disabled and poorest in our society.
I hold information to back up my request, jobcentre staff are ashamed of what is happening.
The leaking of information is their way of coping with the heinous actions they are expected to do on fellow human beings..........

Being ignorant towards suicides and people crying out for help is the policy you have been instructed to follow.

Nevertheless, you are still guilty of the crime.

Yours sincerely,



Dear DWP OPD COO FOI Requests,
I asked if mention of suicide had been present on the website used.

Yours sincerely,


Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Please find attached our response to your request for a review.
DWP Freedom of Information Team.

show quoted sections

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

If you have no history of claimants and links to suicide why did you issue a memo to jobcentre managers a year ago?

Jobcentre bosses warn of suicide risk among benefit claimants

An internal email sent by senior managers warns that ill-handling of benefit changes could have 'profound results' for vulnerable claimants

The Guardian, Wednesday 20 June 2012 12.31

Senior jobcentre executives have warned staff of the risk of benefit claimants attempting suicide as controversial changes to sickness benefits are being pushed through.

The warning, contained in an internal email sent to staff by three senior managers of the government-run jobcentres, warns staff that ill-handling of benefit changes for vulnerable claimants could have "profound results" and highlights the case of one suicide attempt this year.

It emphasises the need for the "utmost care and sensitivity" when dealing with customers, as a result of "difficult changes which some of our more vulnerable customers may take some time to accept and adjust to".

The email, adds: "Very sadly, only last week a customer of DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] attempted suicide" – which it adds is "said to be the result of receiving a letter" informing him that his sickness benefit would be cut off.

The memo will crystallise concerns among charities, campaigners and medical professionals over the impact of welfare reforms on the mental health of some of Britain's most vulnerable people.

Disability campaigners privately warned ministers last year that flaws in the work capability assessment, would lead to some mentally ill people taking their own lives. But they said they were accused by ministers of scaremongering.

Neil Coyle of the charity Disability Rights UK, said: "The government is cutting direct support for thousands of disabled people and using a process to do so which is unfit for purpose. The assessment process for out of work benefits needs urgent improvement to ensure genuine needs are identified properly and to avoid further tragic consequences.

"We and our members warned the government – and DWP especially – of the impact of cuts in support but the problem has been swept under the carpet in the rush to deliver cuts in welfare expenditure. Numbers on a balance sheet have been considered more important than the lived reality of disabled people sadly."

The memo was sent in late April, days before the controversial change of time-limiting contributions-based employment and support allowance was introduced, which will see thousands of sickness benefit claimants with a working partner or some savings lose up to £91 a week in support.

The email sent to jobcentre staff emphasises the importance of being "empathetic" with vulnerable clients, "taking the time to properly understand their circumstances … and talking through their options or signposting them to other sources of support/advice". It adds: "The consequences of getting this wrong can have profound results."

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West Labour MP Tom Greatrex said: "The DWP should take seriously the potential impact its decisions can have on people's lives.

"The 'one size fits all' nature of the work capability assessment is at the root of the problem. A crude computer test of fitness to work leaves little room for a consideration of the affect on mental health.

"It's not just those with pre-existing mental health problems who are at risk. People suffering from conditions such as Parkinson's and cancer find themselves in distressing situations, with added anxiety caused by these tests. At a time when they need help, too often they feel they are being hounded."

A DWP spokesperson said: "It remains rare to find incidents of self-harm where the benefits system is said to have been a factor, but we are not complacent when it comes to ensuring that our staff can provide the right support and help to those affected.

"We ensure our staff are highly trained and ready to help people, however vulnerable they may be and whatever pressures they face.

"We have worked hard – and continue to do so – to improve the way the work capability assessment works for those with mental health issues, but it is right to reform the welfare system. The old incapacity benefits system let down too many people by simply writing them off to a life on benefits, which did nothing for their wellbeing."

But the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents Jobcentre Plus staff, says that they feel ill-equipped to deal with the volume of work, vulnerable claimants and cutbacks.

One jobcentre telephone adviser told the Guardian that the change had been handled "abysmally" and that they feel ill-equipped and "helpless" when talking to distraught customers on the phone, who are phoning up to ask about other options.

"A lot of them are very distressed. They are asking us what to do … how are they supposed to live. And there's nowhere else we can signpost them to, there's literally nowhere for them to go."

Several coroners' reports into suicides have mentioned benefits decisions as a contributory factor, but ministers have always been careful to avoid acknowledging a link.

The Guardian has spoken to dozens of benefits workers and recipients as part of an investigation into the problems faced by Britons living on the breadline and identified three separate cases of attempted suicide among people where changes to their benefits appeared to have been a factor. Several others claimed to have felt suicidal.

Speaking in the Commons recently, the employment minister, Chris Grayling, said: "We will always look very, very carefully indeed where something like that happens. So far my experience is that the story is much more complicated. But that does not mean we are not doing the right thing.

"I passionately believe that we should be helping [people], particularly those with mental health problems. I have met people who have been out of work for years and years and years with chronic depression who we are now beginning to help back into work. We have got to be very careful but we do look very carefully when those situations arise."

J Roberts left an annotation ()

In last night's Nolan Show there was an interview with Esther McVey and some heart-rending testimony from disabled claimants.

One woman in tears who scored 0 points in the WCA assessment had suicidal thoughts. Nolan calmed her down and her stay on the line to speak one of the team behind the scenes.

(55th minute)

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()


A desperate single mum attempted suicide after the Bedroom Tax left her in debt.

Melissa Jones, 31, took sleeping pills to escape her torment over the hated government levy, which the Sunday People is campaigning against.

She was hit with a £50-a-week charge because she shares a three-bedroomed house with her six-year-old son Ryan.

Melissa frantically tried to downsize to a smaller home but housing bosses were unable to find her a suitable property, saying “demand exceeds supply”.

After running up a debt of £600 she decided to end her life.

Her story echoes that of grandmother Stephanie Bottrill, who killed herself last month and left notes blaming the Bedroom Tax.

Melissa said:

“I just couldn’t take it any more. And I thought at least if I was gone my mum could look after Ryan.

“I have been looking for houses but they were saying there were none.”

She spent months searching the Liverpool area for somewhere suitable. Melissa had even looked at private renting but could not afford the deposit.

Her mum Elaine, 53, said:

“She’d been saying for a while that she couldn’t cope with it. She told me, ‘This Bedroom Tax is driving me mad.’ It’s disgusting.”

Some 660,000 social housing tenants are being hit by the tax, introduced on April 1.

Many are already in arrears as the charge sees an average benefit cut of £14 for those with one extra room and £25 for more. Up to 16,000 of them live in Merseyside, where housing bosses say their tenants are suffering.

Alan Rogers, boss of Cobalt Housing, the association that looks after Melissa’s property, said no action would be taken over her arrears. It will also help her find a new home. And he called on the Government to urgently reconsider the tax. Mr Rogers said:

“The Bedroom Tax is putting many of our customers under terrible pressure. We have dedicated staff offering practical help. We believe the Bedroom Tax is deeply unfair and we urge the Government to think again.”

Stephen Twigg, MP for West Derby in Liverpool, said: “Melissa’s case reminds us how unjust and cruel the Bedroom Tax is.”