Benefit cuts ‘drove mentally ill man to suicide’, sister claims



Yet another man’s death has been attributed to the work capability assessment (WCA).

Paul Donnachie was said have have had severe mental health problems. This could very well be the reason he missed four WCAs.

It seems the DWP does not have any mechanism in place to ensure people with mental illnesses are aware they need to attend the fake ‘medical’ assessments – or, if there is such a mechanism, it appears not to have been followed in Mr Donnachie’s case.

People with mental health issues who have been through the DWP’s WCA wringer are often likely to have “brown envelope phobia” – an irrational fear of government letters that means they often fail to open them and read the contents. Mr Donnachie may not have known that he was missing face-to-face interviews that were vital for the future of his benefit payments.

It is a damning indictment against Glasgow City Council and his landlord (if different) that, having cut his housing and council tax benefits, nobody checked on Mr Donnachie to find out how he was proposing to live.

Only last week, Iain Duncan Smith wrote to Commons work and pensions committee chairman Frank Field to say the DWP takes its duty of care seriously. This suggests that the DWP is guilty of neglecting that duty, laying it open to a charge of corporate manslaughter.

If Mr Donnachie’s sister is serious in her intention to demand an inquiry into the death, then it seems likely that this is the charge that Iain Duncan Smith will face.

A mentally ill man who committed suicide after his benefits were stopped was “murdered” by the Government, his sister has said.

Paul Donnachie’s disability benefit was ended in June 2015 after he missed four work capability assessments by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The DWP then informed Glasgow City Council that Mr Donnachie was capable of working, and that his housing and council tax benefits should also be stopped.

The welfare cuts were backdated, so by the time the 50-year-old was informed, he was already in arrears with rent and council tax.

His body was found in his Glasgow flat in January by bailiffs arriving to evict him, but he is thought to have killed himself two months earlier. He had severe mental health problems.

Source: Benefit cuts ‘drove mentally ill man to suicide’, sister claims | UK | News | The Independent

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5 thoughts on “Benefit cuts ‘drove mentally ill man to suicide’, sister claims

  1. anon

    “Brown envelope phobia” has every indication of being a symptom of Complex PTSD – a psychological injury which can also be suffered by people without any pre-existing mental illness.

    A major symptom of PTSD is trigger-avoidance. Such envelopes would be a clear trigger reminding anyone traumatised by the DWP of their stranglehold over their lives.

    Given the DWP’s “correlation” with premature deaths, dreading their communications is not entirely irrational. All things considered the fear probably has far more to do with the appalling ordeals, interrogations and threats of benefit removals these envelopes come to announce.

    I suspect Mr Donnachie had a very good idea of what the letters contained WITHOUT having to open them, and felt very certain that due to his illness he would never find the resilience to face another WCA.

    Had Mr Donnachie been ‘braver’ and successfully complied, how long would it have been before the DWP dragged him back in to undergo a further round of needless psychological torture at public expense? When would it ever have stopped, other than with his death?

    The DWP’s own figures revealed a massive increase of diagnosed mental illness among benefits claimants in recent years, and while many may have been labelled with depression or anxiety, DWP generated Complex PTSD (where depression and anxiety can be common SYMPTOMS, but not the full diagnosis) seems a more likely explanation for most such cases.

    It may be dangerous to dismiss “brown envelope phobia” as a mere quirk of “mental illness” when the root cause has to be the immense fear and trauma that the DWP is seeding into vulnerable people’s lives.

    Until the murderous WCA and this government’s other tormenting of the sick and disabled are stopped, the only possible outcome will be more such tragic deaths.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      While I accept that there is an argument to support your claim that “brown envelope phobia” isn’t entirely irrational, the fact is that people suffering from it become afraid of letters in brown envelopes without having any idea what the contents might say. They decide for themselves that the letters must signal something bad and do not open the envelopes for fear of seeing that signal. Trigger-avoidance, as you say. It’s still irrational because there’s no indication, on the face of it, that the letters are as bad as they think, and not opening them is more likely to hasten the dire consequence they fear than delay it.

  2. Damien Willey

    My wife has received the dreaded WCA appointment this week……turned up in a white envelope….

  3. amnesiaclinic

    Written to my MP calling for a halt to the WCA and sanctions while a thorough independent review carried out.
    I hope the sister will contact you and Maggie about her call for an inquiry and suing the DWP as she will need all the help and expertise she can get.
    Many condolences to her and the family.

Comments are closed.