Demand for training sessions with experts from the emotional support charity has shot up 48% in the past three months, the Sunday People reports.
Housing chiefs are calling in Samaritans as the Bedroom Tax pushes more tenants to the brink – one association even reports a client attempted suicide during a phone call.
Teams of suicide prevention experts from the emotional support charity are training staff at housing groups around the country – and demand for sessions has shot up 48 per cent in the past three months.
At the Riverside Housing Association in Liverpool, 60 call-centre staff have been trained since the Bedroom Tax was introduced in April and by the end of the month the remaining 40 call handlers will be trained to spot suicide risks.
Riverside’s Anna Bishop said: “We had one person who cut their wrists while on the phone to us.
“Someone else said they wanted to cancel some repairs and they were going for a swim and intended to keep swimming because it didn’t hurt once the lungs fill up with water.”
In both cases the Samaritan-trained adviser called the police and the callers’ lives were saved.
Riverside looks after 53,000 homes and takes 40,000 calls a month.
And the number of distressed callers due to rent arrears has risen from 11 per cent in April to 14.5 per cent. Suicidal calls are now coming in at the rate of three a week. Ms Bishop added: “We’ve seen a big increase in people with suicidal thoughts since the Bedroom Tax was introduced.
“People are getting into arrears and that’s down to the welfare reforms. It is a contributory factor.”
The association took over much of the city’s post-war council housing.
But Ms Bishop added: “We’ve got thousands of three-bed properties, but no one-beds in those areas.
“People should be allowed one spare bedroom and only be taxed if they have more.”
South Liverpool Homes also called in Samaritans after a tenant attempted suicide and another resident committed suicide because of financial hardship.
SLH’s Claire Ryan said: “We were able to respond to the attempt and support that person. We moved them to a smaller property which removed the impact of the Bedroom Tax.”
In the first month of the tax on Merseyside, more than 14,000 people fell into arrears – 6,000 of them for the first time.
And nationally, at least 660,000 of society’s most vulnerable families have been hammered by the under-occupation penalty with tenants forced to make up 14 per cent of their rent for one extra bedroom and 25 per cent for two.
In May the Sunday People told how gran Stephanie Bottrill, 53, from Solihull, West Midlands threw herself under a lorry on the M6. Neighbours said she was desperate over demands for £20 a week extra to pay for two unoccupied bedrooms.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Aug 15, 2013 18:52:34 GMT
Haunted by bedroom tax debt torment
A MAN saddled with extra debt after a hike in his rent because of the bedroom tax took his own life, an inquest heard.
Bolton Coroner’s Court was told John Walker, from Marsh Green, was found hanged at his home by his former partner Susan Martin in May after she went to his home as he had sounded upset and low during their phone conversations.
The court heard Mr Walker, 57, had been worried about mounting financial problems with loans and his credit card due to being out of work, and had also disagreed with the JobCentre who had told him he was fit to work despite his complaints of an injury to his back.
His difficulties with money were compounded by being forced to pay extra rent on his property under the so-called “bedroom tax”, which was introduced earlier this year.
The inquest was also told Mr Walker had problems with heavy drinking, and was upset when he was unable to provide presents for his daughter because he had blown money set aside on booze.
Ms Martin told the court: “In the weeks leading up to his death a few things troubled him. He was out of work and struggling to pay a loan, and he was also still trying to pay for a place in Torquay which had been repossessed and sold for less than we bought it for.
“He didn’t really express his feelings but things upset him. I still tried to see him regularly because he had distanced himself from a lot of his friends and his family back in Birmingham.”
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Sept 3, 2013 21:19:19 GMT
Crawley man killed himself after losing benefits
By Finn Scott - Delaney, Senior Reporter. Tuesday 3rd September 2013
A protest was staged in memory of a Crawley man who committed suicide after losing his benefits.
Unemployed electrician Lee Robinson, 39, took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax benefit was taken away.
He is thought to be the first person in Sussex whose suicide is officially linked to recent benefits cuts.
Campaigner Richard Symonds, who helped organise the protest, said: “Lee Robinson was hounded to death by the very people who were supposed to help him live.
“Undoubtedly the DWP personified by Ian Duncan Smith and Lord Freud had a part to play in implementing the policies that would make Hitler proud.”
Mr Robison, of Furzefield, Crawley, had battled depression after failing to find work.
When benefits changes were introduced by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) Mr Robinson lost his automatic entitlement to employment support allowance (ESA).
He also struggled with depression, was taking antidepressants and had some contact with mental health services in Crawley.
AdChoices Speaking at Mr Robinson's inquest, Penelope Schofield, coroner for West Sussex, said: “Mr Robinson tried to be positive but found it hard in the economic climate.
“His main issues were his benefits had been stopped and he had to go to the job centre to claim jobseekers allowance.”
He was found to have taken his own life at the inquest in County Hall, Horsham, on August 21.
A statement read on behalf of Mr Robinson's family said: “We feel very sad that Lee had been trying to access mental health services for years but had only recently been referred.
“It's far too little, much too late.”
A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council said: “We were saddened to hear of Mr Robinson's death. Mr Robinson was in receipt of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stopped his Employment Support Allowance in January this year.
"A protest was staged in memory of a Crawley man who committed suicide after losing his benefits. Unemployed electrician Lee Robinson, 39, took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax benefit was taken away. He is thought to be the first person in Sussex whose suicide is officially linked to recent benefits cuts. Campaigner Richard Symonds, who helped organise the protest, said: “Lee Robinson was hounded to death by the very people who were supposed to help him live. “Undoubtedly the DWP personified by Ian Duncan Smith and Lord Freud had a part to play in implementing the policies that would make Hitler proud.” Mr Robison, of Furzefield, Crawley, had battled depression after failing to find work. When benefits changes were introduced by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) Mr Robinson lost his automatic entitlement to employment support allowance (ESA). He also struggled with depression, was taking antidepressants and had some contact with mental health services in Crawley. Speaking at Mr Robinson's inquest, Penelope Schofield, coroner for West Sussex, said: “Mr Robinson tried to be positive but found it hard in the economic climate. “His main issues were his benefits had been stopped and he had to go to the job centre to claim jobseekers allowance.” He was found to have taken his own life at the inquest in County Hall, Horsham, on August 21. A statement read on behalf of Mr Robinson's family said: “We feel very sad that Lee had been trying to access mental health services for years but had only recently been referred. “It's far too little, much too late.” A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council said: “We were saddened to hear of Mr Robinson's death. Mr Robinson was in receipt of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stopped his Employment Support Allowance in January this year."
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Sept 26, 2013 21:14:01 GMT
Heartbroken dad blames benefits axemen for driving his ill son to commit suicide
DAVID Barr, 28, threw himself from the Forth Road Bridge just weeks after finding out that his employment and support allowance would be withdrawn because assessor ruled that he was fit to work.
By Craig McDonald 22 September 2012
A HEARTBROKEN dad has blamed benefits axemen for driving his ill son to suicide weeks after being told his money was being stopped.
David Barr, 28, threw himself from the Forth Road Bridge after learning the decision to stop his benefit had been upheld.
An Atos assessor had ruled David was fit to work despite being on anti-psychotic sedatives, sleeping tablets and antidepressants. His condition was recorded on a medical assessment as “anxiety and depression”.
But his dad David snr, 57, said he had a host of problems including sleeplessness, memory loss and paranoia – and believes he may have been a schizophrenic.
David was assessed in May. In June, the Department of Work and Pensions told him he was fit to work – and his employment and support allowance was being withdrawn.
In an appeal letter, David wrote: “I disagree with your decision that I am fit for work. I have serious mental health problems that prevent me from doing everyday tasks which means I cannot work at this moment in time.
“I did try and explain this to the medical examiner.”
He was informed on July 17 of the DWP’s final say – they backed the Atos recommendation.
On the evening of Friday, August 23, he got a bus to the bridge, walked to the middle and jumped. He was recovered from the water but died in hospital that night.
David snr, of Leven, Fife, said: “He needed 15 points to ‘pass’ the test and get his benefits but he only got six. I know the difficulties he had – he should have got 106 points.
“The assessment is ridiculous. They said David was fit for work but, in fact, he was fit for hospital.
“I’m in no doubt this matter was the final straw. I would say they are 90 per cent to blame for him taking his life. He’d just had enough.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Sept 29, 2013 23:02:05 GMT
Suicide bid of woman who feared losing her incapacity benefit
14th August 2013
A seriously ill woman died two days after trying to kill herself when she was told her incapacity benefit would be stopped, an inquest heard.
But after Elaine Lowe’s body was found a second, unopened, letter was discovered indicating she would not lose it after all.
Westminster coroner’s court was told she had received a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions saying she should go back to work. The 53-year-old, who suffered breathlessness because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was so distressed she took a cocktail of drugs.
She recovered after treatment in hospital and vowed to fight the Government’s decision. But she died two days later from her existing condition without opening the second letter, the court was told. Ms Lowe, of Battersea, also suffered from long-term mild depression and was a recovering methadone addict.
After her suicide attempt on March 25, she made a full recovery and was discharged the next evening. Dr Sana Hamid, who treated Ms Lowe at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, said: “She wasn’t depressed when I saw her but she added how distressed she had been about the decision by the Benefits Agency. She said that she saw the letter and decided to take her own life. She felt that she couldn’t go back to work and thought it was an unjust decision. She regretted trying to end her life and decided to challenge the decision and go to the Citizens Advice Bureau.”
The coroner added: “Ironically after her death another letter was found that they weren’t going to be stopped at all.”
A suicide note had been left by Ms Lowe in a sealed envelope and some medication was around the floor, the court was told. However, a post-mortem examination revealed she only had a small amount of drugs in her system — mostly from her suicide attempt two days’ previously.
Charles Barden feared he would have to pay the bedroom tax and took his own life, inquest heard
A pensioner hanged himself after telling pals he was worried about how he would afford the Bedroom Tax, the Sunday People reports.
Charles Barden would have been exempt from it due to his age, 74.
But he still feared being forced to leave his three-bedroom house by the tax – introduced six months after he died in October last year.
Det Sgt Sophie Keeling told the inquest: “He was concerned over news items he’d seen about people with more than one bedroom being at risk of losing their properties.”
A friend of the widower said later: “He worried the tax would mean him losing a bedroom or two – or having to move into a smaller house. He didn’t want that.
Step-daughter Alison Whittington said she found he had little money in his bank account – and had secretly sold his car and taken out a loan for £1,000 to make ends meet.
Mr Barden killed himself 19 years to the day after the death of his wife Sadie. It was revealed that his council house in Maidstone, Kent, had remained exactly the same as when she was alive.
Medway and Mid-Kent coroner Patricia Harding recorded an open verdict at his Maidstone inquest.
“He was concerned he may lose his house due to the benefit system changes,” she said. “He had health concerns and had not got over his wife’s death. I am satisfied he suspended himself – the cause of death – but evidence as to his intentions is unclear.”
The Sunday People is campaigning against the tax. In May we reported how Stephanie Bottrill, 53, of Solihull, West Mids, left notes blaming it for her suicide.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Dec 14, 2013 22:16:28 GMT
Mind links suicides to DWP benefits testing....
Full report: People considering suicide after losing ill-health benefits, says charity Last updated Thu 12 Dec 2013
A Tyneside charity says it is now dealing with cases of people contemplating suicide because they are no longer entitled to ill-health benefits.
Mind in Gateshead says that the Government's back-to-work scheme does not take mental health seriously enough and is forcing people back to work too soon. A review into the scheme published today recommends that benefits assessors get more training around mental health. Dan Ashby reports.
The 53-year-old, who also suffered agoraphobia, was about to be kicked out of his housing association home when he hanged himself in the hall.
A coroner ruled the Government’s decision to axe Tim’s meagre incapacity benefit contributed to his death.
And the former assistant store manager’s sister Linda Cooksey told how his fitness to work test was carried out by a physiotherapist with no experience of mental health issues or knowledge of his blindness.
The 60-year-old said his family never even knew about his money problems until after his death.
She added: “Stopping his benefits sent him over the edge. When his small savings ran out he got in trouble with his rent, and his £30 disability allowance a week just wasn’t enough.
"Tim ran out of money. He was a proud man and never let on to anybody. It’s so sad. I want everyone to know what this government is doing to vulnerable people on benefits.
“He had a certificate to say he was blind. When we got into his house there was no food, he practically starved in the last weeks.”