The work capability assessment and suicide – a.k.a. ‘chequebook euthanasia’

Too ill to work means too ill to live: Work capability assessors have been asking people with serious illnesses and disabilities why they have not committed suicide.

Too ill to work means too ill to live: Work capability assessors have been asking people with serious illnesses and disabilities why they have not committed suicide.

A new phrase has entered the Vox Political lexicon following yesterday’s article on an Atos work capability assessor who asked a woman suffering with depression why she had not committed suicide: ‘Chequebook euthanasia’.

(That article had itself been prompted by a piece the day before, on the higher possibility of people committing suicide over the Christmas period.)

The article prompted Earl Appleby to tweet, in response: “Little surprise here, alas. The able-bodied driving people with disabilities to suicide is a hoary form of chequebook euthanasia.”

He added: “Binding & Hoche advocated chequebook euthanasia nearly a century ago.”

They certainly did. Professors Karl Binding and Erich Hoche raised the case for chequebook euthanasia in Germany’s Weimar Republic, 80 years ago, in their seminal work The Destruction of Life Devoid of Value.

This article reveals the worst about Binding and Hoche. It states that they considered people with disabilities (and would probably have added those with long-term illnesses) to be “‘useless eaters’ whose ‘ballast lives’ could be tossed overboard to better balance the economic ship of state. In speaking of those with disabilities, and explicitly advocating involuntary euthanasia, Binding and Hoche wrote:

Their life is absolutely pointless, but they do not regard it as being unbearable. They are a terrible, heavy burden upon their relatives and society as a whole. Their death would not create even the smallest gap—except perhaps in the feelings of their mothers or loyal nurses.

“Just like today!

Furthermore, Binding and Hoche drove home the economic argument by calculating the total cost expended in caring for such people. They concluded that this cost was ‘a massive capital in the form of foodstuffs, clothing and heating, which is being subtracted from the national product for entirely unproductive purposes.’

Now look at the case of Abi Fallows, as reported yesterday. This is a person who has asserted that she is unable to work – certainly for the foreseeable future – and has medical evidence to support this. The Atos assessor seized on her admission that she suffered with depression and asked why she had not committed suicide.

Not only was this a device to put the idea in her mind, it also indicates government thinking – one less mouth to feed is considerably less expense on, as Binding and Hoche would have it, “their relatives and society as a whole”.

It should be noted at this time that Ms Fallows’ case is not unique – by any stretch of the imagination. Vox Political has a tiny readership, compared with the size of the UK population, let alone the world (this blog is read in all but a few countries internationally) and yet within 15 minutes of the article’s publication, a commenter named Dominique stated: “They asked me too at my assessment.”

Caroline Hudson told the 4UP Politricks Facebook page: “I got asked that at my assessment. In fact she told me I had been looking for attention and had not meant to kill myself otherwise I would not still be here.”

Fellow blogger Jayne Linney told us: “I was asked the same question by Capita as well as ATOS. I wonder if it’s in the DWP ‘Script’?” [bolding mine]

‘Mary’ added: “I think it’s the system. They are told what questions to ask and what boxes to tick.”

“It’s the system”…

Following up on Earl Appleby’s tweet, Trevor Warner added: “It was Binding & Hoche who laid the groundwork for the ‘Aktion T-4’ program implemented by the Nazis.” T4, according to our old friend Wikipedia, was “a programme of forced euthanasia in wartime Nazi Germany. Under the programme physicians were directed to judge patients ‘incurably sick, by critical medical examination,’ and then administer to these patients a ‘mercy death’.” In this way, 70,273 people were despatched during the programme’s official running time, with a further 200,000+ unofficial deaths attributed to German and Austrian physicians practices who continued its practices until the defeat of the Nazis in 1945.

Technology developed for Aktion T4 went on to be used in the infamous extermination camps.

It could be argued that the Coalition Government doesn’t have any blood on its hands. Nobody goes around the United Kingdom subjecting the sick and disabled to so-called ‘mercy’ killings, after all.

They just subject people – who are already in an unstable frame of mind – to a highly pressurised ‘fitness’ test and then demand to know why, considering their condition, they haven’t killed themselves yet. Then they let those people do all the work themselves.

Perhaps the government ministers who devised this wheeze – or perhaps the shadowy American insurance firm that has been advising them on policy – thought it was an excellent way of clearing the books without anyone ever being able to say they were responsible for the deaths.

Well, you know what?

There is a list including around 70 people who have died since the Coalition government came into office, many of whom committed suicide – after taking the Coalition Government’s work capability assessment.

What’s the law on corporate manslaughter, again?

“An organisation… is guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a person’s death; and amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased. An organisation is guilty of an offence only if the way in which its activities are managed or organised by its senior management is a substantial element.”

The noose is beginning to tighten – and not on benefit claimants.

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  1. Nigel December 7, 2014 at 3:44 am - Reply

    So can IDS be charged with corporate manslaughter he’s the top man in these cases.

  2. Maria December 7, 2014 at 3:49 am - Reply

    ‘a massive capital in the form of foodstuffs, clothing and heating, which is being subtracted from the national product for entirely unproductive purposes.’” Shame on them for seeing human beings as pawns in the economy, when there is so much more to the value of human beings. Just goes to show how little they care, but if they think society can survive without love and care and looking out for each other, they can think again.

  3. Mick December 7, 2014 at 5:20 am - Reply

    I had an appointment with a mental health social worker who stated quite openly ” suicide is an option” within the mental health guidelines given to staff. Whether this is written down or just spoken I couldn’t say. I asked how this could be? Her answer didn’t surprise me ” It costs less if people commit suicide” !!! A truly F***KED UP country we live in!!!!

  4. Ulysses December 7, 2014 at 8:09 am - Reply

    How about crowd sourcing the funds to take out court action against the DWP or higher? We need to get organised, the blogs individually have a small reach, but if combined behind a common goal?

    • Florence December 7, 2014 at 1:59 pm - Reply

      Great idea, but first we need a lawyer with appropriate expertise to do some pro-bono work to identify the grounds for such an action. It needs to be someone willing to work against the establishment

      Anyone out there with contacts, or who has the expertise?

    • Elizabeth Newman December 8, 2014 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      If somebody sets it up (not one of my skills) I’ll put some money in.

  5. Alistair Ralph Lazenby December 7, 2014 at 8:20 am - Reply

    I’m disabled my self, if i got called for an assessment and someone said that to me Suicide, i would call a member of family/friend and wait for that person to come out from work,and believe me, that person will not drive or walk home on that day or ever again, Hospital will be the order of the day, in time that person will be called for assessment. TOUCHE, no doubt about it, i would finish his/her career, like mine was from result of a civil worker.

    • Mike Sivier December 7, 2014 at 11:19 am - Reply

      While your feelings are understandable, I’d just like to clarify that this blog does not condone violence.

  6. marcusdemowbray December 7, 2014 at 8:28 am - Reply

    I knew about the Nazi belief in Eugenics and Euthanasia but did not know about Binding and Hoche. thanks for making me aware of them. This clearly is the influence in current Tory (and LibDem?) thinking. Similarly Osborne and Johnson have both stated that those who cannot afford to stay in London or other cities should get out, in other words their vision is for cities to be full of wealthy people, and those that service them will just have to commute from remote zones. How they are going to afford to commute has not been addressed, but that is to be expected from these buffle-headed dandiprats.

    There are now many genuine points of comparisons between the Nazis and the Tories (and LibDems?) and you do not have to be a conspiracy theorist to spot them.

  7. Anonymous December 7, 2014 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide:

    Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

    Too bad the definition doesn’t cover sick and disabled people.

  8. Leoni Al-ajeel December 7, 2014 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    I had an assessment with ATOS and they asked me if i had had any thoughts about killing myself. And what medication’s did i have etc, and had i thought of taking them to end my life. I was taken off ESA and told i was fit for work after the assessment, no warning that my money would be stopped, it just stopped and then i received a letter a week later

    • elizabeth December 12, 2014 at 12:51 am - Reply

      i was also asked if I had ever thought of killing myself and why I hadn’t actually done it, I was also taken off with no notice, and my rent payment to my landlord was cancelled, I was then told I was only entitled to food money, 19.20 a week, rent and utilities are apparently classed as luxuries.

  9. Thomas M December 7, 2014 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    This government needs to be voted out as soon as possible, for the sake of all the non-rich living in the UK. Not content with abolishing legal aid and doing all manner of other bad things, it wants to allow legal euthanasia and then try and make as many poor people commit suicide as possible. If it’s not removed by the voters, it might join with UKIP and make things even more unpleasant for people.

  10. Nick December 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Suicide is rife in the uk as it is no person with long term mental health problems would wish to live in the uk as it is as living in the uk in many cases is the main cause of long term mental health problems in the first place

    the pace of just living is so fast, that and the inability to live in a decent house to not be able to bring your children up as you would wish and more all of these basic things that you cant do by living in the UK even if you work

    at the end of the day the minds of many just go blank and in many cases never to recover

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