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Benefits and suicide: you have to be strong to ask for help

SarahD

SarahD

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Benefits and suicide: 'You have to be strong to ask for help' | Society | The Guardian

Benefits and suicide: 'You have to be strong to ask for help'

Roberto*, a factory worker in his thirties who suffered sexual abuse as a child, has attempted suicide three times in the past four weeks. He has chronic depression, sometimes hears voices and believes he may have schizophrenia but has never even seen a psychiatrist.

“You have to be strong to ask for help,” said Roberto, at a meeting on Wednesday with City and Hackney Mind’s 6-strong welfare advice team, who help those in the borough with mental health problems navigate the no man’s land they find themselves in when they become too sick to work or have a change to their benefits.

In the last three months, Roberto lost his job, discovered his father had cancer and was turned down for employment and support allowance, a situation which left him destitute and forced him to beg on the street in order to feed himself.

His most serious suicide attempt, a month ago, resulted in him ending up in the accident and emergency ward of Homerton hospital, where staff referred him to a psychiatrist. The appointment is next week, but last week, he attempted suicide again.

Roberto, who moved to London from Italy to work 10 years ago, has now been threatened with eviction. He lives on his own in private accommodation, where people call him names because of his mental health issues.

“It is difficult, people are abusive,” said Roberto, who came to the charity a month ago for help. “But when you lose your house, that affects your mental health too.”

The small portable building where Roberto is sitting, in a courtyard outside Mind’s City and Hackney office, serves as a safety net for those with mental health issues in the borough who are having problems accessing benefits.

Not all of the 500 clients every quarter seen by the charity’s team are suicidal. But according to Reeta Kauppinen, manager for welfare rights, they see “actively suicidal” clients every week. Last week, five out of 50 clients seen would fit into that category, she said. Most of the calls to Mind’s national helpline are from those wanting to talk about suicide and self-harm, followed by advice on support services, mainly advocacy and welfare benefits.

But the bare bones of Roberto’s story, a man who has fallen through the cracks in social care, and who – despite having an obvious mental health problem – has been forced to turn to charities for help with the most basic needs of food and shelter, is depressingly familiar to workers here.

Craig Rice, sitting opposite Roberto with a mobile phone to his ear, is making calls to government agencies to try to get his client’s ESA claim – turned down on habitual residency grounds – appealed. He is officially a welfare adviser for the charity.

But, as Rice juggles calls between landlords, community mental health teams and others on behalf of Roberto, his second client this morning, it is obvious that he is also part social worker, housing adviser and community health worker.

There has been growing concern over the way benefits are administered in relation to vulnerable individuals and, last year, revelations that the Department for Work and Pensions had internally investigated 60 suicides related to benefit changes led to calls for greater transparency from the agency.

More in link
 
Toasted Crumpet

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Good comment on Cif about this article:

Although the government doesn't actively promote suicide among those it considers to have no economic worth, its policies are clearly intended to nudge those people towards self-disposal to reduce the burden on health and welfare budgets that is incurred by their continued existence. From a business perspective, the ideal solution would be for the state to put currently unusable people into suspended animation until the time when a use could be found for them, but, where the cost of freeze-drying and storage is likely to exceed the economic benefit, a policy of labour renewal (self-disposal and the importation of new labour units, as required) is a more efficient strategy. A business-focused government can assist firms in finding a use for potential suicides by relaxing obsolete restrictions on the ways in which marginal human resource can be exploited.

The content of postings on social media suggests that an explicit policy promoting suicide among members of generally despised out-groups would receive popular support, but the public is notoriously equivocal on this score, responding with abhorrence when asked about it in circumstances that identify the person giving the opinion but expressing a far more positive view when able to do so anonymously. Until market researchers are able to discern a consistent public opinion in favour of promoting self-disposal in unpopular social groups, politicians are advised to maintain their current approach of pretending to deplore suicide while pursuing policies that increase its incidence.
That's why I am staying alive - to piss the f***ers off :curseyou:
 
Unique1

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Those medicals by ATOS are really stressful. I've had 2 of them. They set be back months and I actually thought at one stage I just don't want to be here anymore because of the terrible way they made me feel. I felt judged at the medical, and one of my main fears is being judged. The points system they use is unfair. At both medicals I was asked if I use social media. Im not sure what the relevance is, but someone told me that it is because they believe if you can use social media , you can work, I'm not sure how true this is. My health was badly affected by it all and made worse for sure..
 
Unique1

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I should add that the persons interviewing on both occasions were not Nasty, and try to be nice.it's just the whole situation of knowing the questions are going to be kind of not relevant to MH and knowing you may not achieve the relevant points, the pressure it puts on you....
 
SarahD

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Yeah I think Atos is short for Atosser.

Sorry don't know why I put that. I hate them. The whole medical assessment is the most stressful thing, and then sorting it out after took months and months.

Now they are being replaced by an American company who have a very bad reputation, so I don't think it will get any easier.

I was supposed to be reassessed last January (2014), Atos have to finish off the people in process, they are more than a year behind. The kind of pressure it puts on everyone, who is already ill physically or mentally or both, it just isn't fair. No wonder people kill themselves.
 
Unique1

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Yes my anxiety levels were really high with it all. I think it was mostly the pressure of feeling I would not be able to achieve the points to be eligible for ESA support group, as I new I couldn't work, I was distraught. I heard ATOS had lost the contract, and was hoping the system would change for the better, it doesn't sound like it will :(
 
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ramboghettouk

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i feel i have to make myself ill to prove i'm ill, maybe i'm on a bit of a roll at the moment with the nice housing but feel help and benefits may be cut as a result and i'll deteriate to square one
 

cpuusage

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Suicide rate among British men ‘highest since 2001’

Suicide rate among British men

The male suicide rate is at its highest in more than a decade with men accounting for 78 percent of all UK suicides in 2013, according to new figures. The recession and the stigma of depression are thought to be responsible for the rise.

Overall the number of British people aged 15 and over committing suicide rose by 4 percent in 2013, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed.

The suicide rate for middle-aged men has now reached its highest level for more than 30 years. The highest rate was among men aged 45 to 59, with 25.1 deaths per 100,000 – the highest for that age group since 1981.

The male suicide rate was more than three times higher than for females in 2013, with 19 male deaths per 100,000 – the highest since 2001.

There was a downward trend in the suicide rate between 1981 and 2007, but since then there has been a steady increase.

North East England had the highest suicide rate in England, with 13.8 deaths per 100,000, while London had the lowest at 7.9 per 100,000.

“Since 2007, the female rate stayed relatively constant while the male rate increased significantly,” the ONS report states.
 
SomersetScorpio

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Suicide rate among British men ‘highest since 2001’
Horrible. :(

I see the "You need to be strong to ask for help", but what help is there, I mean really?
That's one of my main gripes about the whole increasing mental health awareness thing. They emphasise how help is other there!
But I think the reality of the situation is very different. I've had my own experiences of asking for help when suicidal only to be pretty much goaded into doing it by members of the crisis team.
 
Unique1

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Strong AND persistent ! Which is so hard for anyone with a mental illness to be....
:(
 
E

english rose

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Those medicals by ATOS are really stressful. I've had 2 of them. They set be back months and I actually thought at one stage I just don't want to be here anymore because of the terrible way they made me feel. I felt judged at the medical, and one of my main fears is being judged. The points system they use is unfair. At both medicals I was asked if I use social media. Im not sure what the relevance is, but someone told me that it is because they believe if you can use social media , you can work, I'm not sure how true this is. My health was badly affected by it all and made worse for sure..
I hate the woman who interviewed me for ATOS, she was all nice to me at the time - friendly, polite, appeared to be sympathetic, but boy did she stitch me up good & proper once my back was turned - like a 'smiling assassin'!
 
E

english rose

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Yeah I think Atos is short for Atosser.

Sorry don't know why I put that. I hate them. The whole medical assessment is the most stressful thing, and then sorting it out after took months and months.

Now they are being replaced by an American company who have a very bad reputation, so I don't think it will get any easier.

I was supposed to be reassessed last January (2014), Atos have to finish off the people in process, they are more than a year behind. The kind of pressure it puts on everyone, who is already ill physically or mentally or both, it just isn't fair. No wonder people kill themselves.
If you include the assessment & further back the form I had to fill in, my present struggle has been going on for 18 months, & could still be 6 months from being resolved.
 
Unique1

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I hate the woman who interviewed me for ATOS, she was all nice to me at the time - friendly, polite, appeared to be sympathetic, but boy did she stitch me up good & proper once my back was turned - like a 'smiling assassin'!
Yes I understand what you mean there, if it wasn't for a letter from my phsychologist the same would have happened to me I suspect, it's hard to get the relevant points required,and they know how to ask the questions to set you up for the fall...absolutely awful...when you are genuinely ill it makes you feel so bad. I understand more about the questions now, but they can be so misinterpreted...would recommend anyone going get help from cab or some other support agency.
 
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