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Archive for the ‘Links with Suicide’ Category

DWP-Related-Suicide Rate Increasing?

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I seem to remember on one occasion a spokesman for the DWP, (possibly a Minister, but they seem to change fairly frequently now) referring to warnings about increasing mental health problems associated with the WCA, and dangerous effects on the vulnerable that could ‘tip them over’, contempuously dismissing such ideas as ‘scaremongering’. In the typical reverse-logic of an abuser, they went on to claim that it is the ‘scaremongering’ which is the problem, since it is it that is causing people anxiety and worse, not the actual process they’re being forced to go through.  Let’s examine that idea for a moment through the lens of common sense…

They were claiming that notions of fear, undoubtably anxiety-provoking though its accepted they can be (especially when suffering mental health problems) have a more deleterious effect than being told you are fit when you’re not, and having the only support, (and other support that is contingent on that status) removed, leaving you extraordinarily vulnerable, your only hope to obtain work that you are patently not confident of being able to do, in a time of high unemployment. Fear can be deadly, yes, when it comes to suicide-ideation. But the actuation of that fear, the bearing it out in the actual circumstances you are thrown into against your will, is the real killer.

I’ve become apprehensive about what I’m going to see on social media daily now. In this latest case, which follows on quite soon after that of Tim Salter, there can be no doubt about what caused Shaun Pilkington to shoot himself, as there was similarly no doubt about what caused Tim to hang himself, and no doubt about why Stephanie Bottrill walked onto the motorway that day. I’m glad that the Mirror described Stephanie as a suicide ‘victim’, because that’s what these people are – victims. And to all intents and purposes they are increasing at a disturbing rate. It’s such a high price for our society to pay for this pushing through of a patently contrived, ideologically driven ‘process’ that has been designed for no other purpose than to facilitate the ‘culling of benefits’, by a government which not only lacks concern for its most disempowered citizens, but appears to view their lives as dispensable in the context of their ruthless savaging of ‘welfare’.

All three victims noted above were already impaired in some way health-wise, already at a disadvantage in an employment market which with sickening predictability demands that potential employees be  ‘flexible’, ‘energetic’ and ‘willing to give 110%’. But they were also all in their fifties, a demographic group historically disadvantaged in the labour market against the young, who are viewed as more malleable, more willing and less likely to succumb to illness by potential employers. Doubly disadvantaged then. And isn’t that the profound shamefulness of these policies, that they are targetting those who have compound disadvantage, the most vulnerable  of all of us?

MIND film captures misery of WCA for those struggling with Mental Health

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Tyneside MIND have produced this compelling account of what it’s like for those suffering mental health issues to have to undergo the unforgiving, indifferent and humiliating ordeal that is the DWP’s Work Capability Assessment. For those who have been through that experience or who are currently experiencing that kind of vulnerability, viewing may not be advisable, but it is very important that material like this is disseminated widely to counter the government’s unsupportable claims of legitimacy for their WCA process.

MIND’s Campaign page associated with this film, where you can sign to hear about this and other campaigns can be found here.

Worsening of Mental Health, Self Harm and Suicides Directly Attributable to WCA

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Investigative news outfit Exaro have revealed that a recent survey commissioned by mental health charity ‘Rethink Mental Illness demonstrates the devastating effect that the, now notorious, Work Capability Assessment is having on the sick and disabled across the country. Of a thousand GPs surveyed it was reported that 6% had disabled patients who had either attempted, or actually committed, suicide due to the distress the process is causing. One in five (21%) revealed that they had patients who have considered suicide in connection with the WCA, either as a result of undergoing it, or fear of having to. 14% of GPs also confirmed self harming behaviour among patients forced to undergo the Atos administered test.

“These shocking statistics show that the work-capability assessment is pushing some of the most unwell and vulnerable people in our society to the edge.” – Paul Jenkins, chief executive, Rethink Mental Health.

Further, Rethink’s survey indicates that not only is the WCA exacerbating  ill-heath for those with existing mental health problems, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, but

More than eight out of ten GPs say they have patients who have developed mental health problems due to [the] controversial benefits test” [italics added]

Only ‘Anecdotal’  

an·ec·do·tal [an-ik-doht-l, an-ik-doht-l]
adjective
based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigations rather than systematic scientific evaluation”

Attempts to undermine the vast amounts of incriminating evidence discrediting the WCA include comments such as this by Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone reported in the Daily Record:

“But many of the stories we have heard are anecdotal. It is difficult to find a statistical or empirical set of figures to tell us exactly what these problems are.”

Is this survey ‘statistical’ and ’empirical’ enough for those such as Mr Johnstone? Or will they find some other means of dismissing the facts? There is material which has been expressly designed for just that purpose, including the means by which GPs and other doctors’ authority can be undermined or dismissed. It can be found among the output from proponents of the BioPsychoSocial model of illness, and adherents to the ‘Wessely’ psychogenic doctrine.

A Clarification About ‘Work’

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Someone commented on my last post regarding what they perceive to be my encouragement of a negative perspective to work for the sick and disabled, which they evidently feel could deter others from attempting to work, something which has been beneficial for them personally. Since comments are not viewable unless you click on them on here, I am repeating my response to them .

My previous post was not denying that work plays an important part in our lives, or that it can make a valuable contribution to our self esteem. In a broad sense, that is, as in my long working history I have experienced both sides of that coin. Some jobs actively undermine self worth and health, but some as you say challenge us in positive ways and help us develop both socially and personally, developing relationships and skills that enhance our lives. There is probably nothing better for our self esteem than to experience ourselves as useful, purposeful beings, in an environment where our efforts are valued and rewarded appropriately. The potential beneficial effects of work I expect to be taken as a ‘given’ in my writing about this subject. But that piece is not about whether or not work is good for us.

It is about the cynical misappropriation of that idea to quite different ends than those which are claimed by Professor Aylward and his colleagues, and subsequently our government. There is a great deal more history to this situation than I have been able to cover in the two pieces I have written on the subject.

I am merely trying to highlight certain important factors that have played a part in a process which, if you have read any of my other posts, is having  a devastating effect on sick and disabled people in this country. The horrifying cases continue to mount daily. In a sense my piece is not even about that. It is a direct challenge to Professor Aylward’s claim to have no involvement in this. I hope you would see that his denial of his involvement and attempt to distance himself from the huge part he has played in it is convincing proof of how toxic these ‘reforms’, in particular the Work Capability Assessment, are.

That the most influential person, the one who has been singularly instrumental in propagating the ideas (on a worldwide scale) which they have been constructed upon, attempts to extricate himself, that surely is validation enough. The WCA is a fraud. Even the most superficial investigation such as mine exposes its bias, and its hidden agenda. The effects, which should be the final determiner of whether a process is successful in its (asserted beneficial) aims, prove that conclusively. People are dying after being found fit, others are being driven to suicide, certainly many more are living in fear and desperation. This is not sensationalising the situation it is the plain truth.

I am glad that you have not suffered too much from your WCA experience, and have managed to obtain work which has restored your self esteem. That can not be said to be generally true I’m afraid. That a few may escape the ill effects can in no way justify the many who are being brutalised by this process.

Nil Points…

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Nil Points… The WCA – Like a perverted Eurovison Song Contest, only no-one’s singing and dancing… mainly they’re being driven into destitution, or suicide, or simply dying while being ‘found’ fit.

The BBC seem to be catching up a bit of late, hopefully not too late, although it certainly is for a growing number of victims of Atos. There can no longer be any doubt that many have been driven to suicide by this government’s ‘welfare reforms’ in the area of health-related benefits. A recent news item on the BBC site is yet another in a never-ending torrent of evidence that the WCA is not only ‘not fit for purpose’ but is clearly a bureaucratic instrument designed to deny people their legitimate benefits. I no longer believe its simply about saving money. I believe its an ideological assault on the vulnerable, which has much in common with that of a more notorious historical regime. The parallels are striking, couched though they might be in a discourse more acceptable to modern consciences. This time instead of smearing all sick and disabled people, and being encouraged to regard them as ‘useless eaters’, we are invited to discriminate between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ sick and disabled. Once you establish that premise and install a bureaucratic system which finds the majority ‘underserving’, and then widely publish these distorted results in the mainstream press, you have paved the way for the wholescale demonisation of a community. Because ‘the public’ respond to messages, the same now as they did historically. And the overriding message for them has been that you can’t trust this sector of the population. The seeds of doubt have been sown in the minds of the ‘advantaged’, those who have no struggle with impairments in carrying out their daily lives. To the abject shame of our society the politics of resentment has been stirred up and aimed squarely at the vulnerable.

There is much denial that this is an offensive against the sick and disabled, with the utilisation of concepts created by disabled campaigners themselves, originally for the purpose of  overturning negative social preconceptions.  Now those concepts are being used against them in true Orwellian fashion, almost as if the government are saying “Well you claimed you could contribute to society, you claimed you could work, now get off your arses and do so, because we are not going to support you anymore”.  Or as Grayling prefers to spin it “identify people who can do more with their lives and give them the help they need to find their way back to work”, something that counter-intuitively will be facilitated by giving them less money rather than more, apparently.

More realistically, as disabled journalist Mark Sparrow put it earlier this year, these ‘reforms’ have compounded the disadvantage, as he writes: “Chris Grayling you’ve made me financially, as well as physically disabled”

To return to the most recently exposed victim of this system, Cecilia Burns received ‘Nil points’ at her WCA, despite the fact that she was still undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The government accordingly reduced her benefit by £30 per week. After fighting against the decision her ESA was reinstated shortly before her death. So this woman who had been enduring cancer, and enduring the side effects of treatment for it, was made to do so with less money, and had to spend the last months of her life in a pointless struggle to regain what she had been entitled to all along. Nil points to you Mr Grayling, and your immoral system, nil points.

 

The ‘Psychologising’ of Illness and The Sanctification of Work

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I’ve been away a little while (longer than I intended), partly because I’ve been working on an article for the International Green Socialist online magazine. It turned into a larger project than I intended, but I hope visitors here will give it a go because I think it exposes some deliberate processes that have been going on behind the scenes of the new ‘reforms’ of health related benefits, to the disadvantage of the sick and disabled in this country. Despite its length I still feel there is more to be said about this and I hope to be following it up with more in depth analyses in the near future.

Fill your boots (as my darling daughter would say) here:

Illness as ‘Deviance’, Work as Glittering Salvation and the ‘Psyching-up’ of the Medical Model: Strategies for Getting The Sick ‘Back To Work’.

(You might need more than one pair :D)

Update: Noticed that the above link is not presently working so a copy of the article can be found here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/32109159/Illness%20as%20Deviance.pdf

DWP ‘Death Count’

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http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2011/08/10/paul-reekie-david-cameron/

List of benefit related suicides, many of them directly connected to the Atos Work Capability Assessment, being at some part of the process between scheduled for assessment to awaiting a tribunal hearing.

Written by bigleyma

August 10, 2011 at 3:01 pm