You’ll never believe who the ONS says is at greatest risk of suicide in the UK

[Image: iStock].

After all the time This Writer has spent trying to persuade people threatening suicide to soldier on, it is ironic that the statistics suggest the person at the most risk of all… is me.*

Critics of This Site: Don’t get your hopes up. It’s never going to happen.

But the evidence is there. Tally it up for yourself.

As a carer, I’m three times more likely to top myself than the national average, and know more about suicide methods than others might deem is good for me; and as a worker in the media I am also at higher risk.

While I have job security (in that nobody can fire me) I am also low-paid, and that is another contributing factor.

And then there is the matter of relationship problems and stressful life events.

Anybody who has been a carer will know that, at some point, even the most well-behaved patient (can anybody think of a better description of the person in care?) will lash out at their carer. It is frustration with their condition, taken out irrationally on the nearest human being.

With no regard for how the nearest human being will feel about it.

Mrs Mike recently persuaded me to read a couple of books about living with depression because, she said, she wanted me to understand her condition a little better. Part of what I read included the idea that, when a person with depression lashes out at another, it’s not them doing the talking; it’s their illness.

I’m sure that’s true.

But it didn’t feel that way yesterday, when I had to accommodate a visit from a repair person after a water pipe sprang a leak in the airing cupboard – which involved me shifting all the towels, bedsheets and goodness-knows-what-else out of there, along with all the shelving, and then putting it all back after the repairs (and how long will they last?) were finished – together with the usual household chores of doing the clothes washing, cooking, washing-up, and cleaning up behind her…

… only to be told in no uncertain terms that the house is a pigsty because nobody helps her out and I don’t give a **** [insert four-letter term of your choice] because I’d rather be upstairs playing on my computer.

For clarity: “Playing on my computer” is Mrs Mike’s rationalisation of the way I write This Site. Never mind the contribution it has made to awareness of government persecution inflicted on people with long-term illnesses and disabilities like hers; never mind the victories it has won against the same government; never mind the fact that revenue from the site has increased our income significantly and made her much more comfortable, if it’s possible to say that about a person with her many physical, as well as mental/emotional, illnesses. I’m “playing on my computer”.

Also deemed as “playing on my computer” is all the work I have done to protect Mrs Mike herself from the Department for Work and Pensions, which has been desperate to cut off her Employment and Support Allowance since the day she was first subjected to a work capability assessment.

“Playing on my computer” is all the work I have done to protect her from losing other associated benefits and no doubt “playing on my computer” will include any work I will have to do when she is finally assessed for the Personal Independence Payment, which I am sure the DWP will not want to pay her.

I can no longer count all the ways “playing on my computer” has saved Mrs Mike from harm. And I have no way of knowing how many other people may have been helped.

But, considering the way she treats me for doing it, I hope you can understand why I think “relationship problems” can be attributed to carers as much as construction workers – and also why “multiple stressful life events” should be, as well. If DWP harassment isn’t a “stressful life event” I don’t know what is – and everybody who has ever suffered the Department’s attentions knows its “multiple” nature.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. I’m explaining. I know the things I do that take me away from Mrs Mike’s housework are important – if not vital – to our well-being. I even have other plans in hand to provide longer-term security – although, inevitably, they involve more “playing on my computer” that will continue to keep me away from the housework I should so obviously be doing instead.

And I am placid enough and patient enough, in my personality, to let the abuse flow over and around me without taking it too much to heart.

It still hurts, though – and if it hurts me, then it’ll hurt every other carer too.

Recently, it has been suggested to me that I am suffering from ‘carer fatigue’ and I certainly recognise some of the symptoms. I’ll need to deal with that somehow and I’m already actively examining ways to do so.

But I’m a proactive kind of person with the resources to make a difference.

Others may not be so well-placed.

Another aspect of this that I haven’t even mentioned yet is the prevailing atmosphere of suspicion and hatred against people claiming to have long-term illnesses and disabilities, and the way that reflects on their carers.

If the government/media/blokie-down-the-pub are saying the person claiming benefits for their condition is a scrounger – what does that make their carer? Right?

It would be hard to wrap up this article with a positive message because I’ve just made it clear that I’m not feeling positive about this situation right now.

That being said, people reading this article might consider doing a little to contradict the prevailing antipathy. All you have to do is, you know, be nice to a carer every once in a while.

After all – what’s the saying?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” According to the statistics, that is triply true for carers.

The Office for National Statistics and the University of Bristol… looked at suicide rates among working age people between 2011 and 2015. Suicide is the leading cause of death in England for the under-50s.

Both male and female carers, who look after the sick, elderly and disabled, had a suicide risk that was triple the national average.

All workers in culture, media and sport had a higher risk of suicide.

The report listed three factors that increased the risk of suicide.

The first was low pay and job security.

The second was “self-selection” where people at higher risk enter certain professions.

The third factor was that some jobs increased the access to and knowledge of suicide methods.

The report also made a point about… relationship problems and multiple stressful life events in the months before death [the article links this to the construction industry but in This Writer’s experience it could be attached to carers just as easily].

Source: Suicide risk for UK carers three times national average

*Not just me, of course – no doubt there are others like me, although my situation must certainly be rare.

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38 thoughts on “You’ll never believe who the ONS says is at greatest risk of suicide in the UK

  1. Jt Zoonie

    Same problem here. As a matter of fact it’s classed as addiction by the USA psych people. Fact is how do we stay on top of the day to day bull**** the government spew out every day.
    Rules and regulations that change by the second. Please carry on

  2. Fibro confused

    Caring for a loved one is just about the hardest job there is, I’m part time caring now and as a disabled person myself it’s so hard to stay positive and not give in. The added pressure of this governments vile behaviour towards the disabled community which includes carers adds even more pressure on top, it’s not all physical although it can be tiring physically it’s the mental aspect that is often the hardest to deal with. There are times I’ve lashed out when the pain & fatigue gets to much and more hoops are created for us all to jump through, suicide is a common thought, I won’t ,I have people who need me, honestly if those people no longer needed me I don’t think I’d stay around.
    Mike you do an amazing job, both writing for this site and taking the fight to the Govt, it hasn’t gone unnoticed when you send out most of your posts, nearly always late/early morning. Mrs Mike might ‘have ago’ but it’s the illness not her and you manage so well to let it go over your head most of the time, I applaud you!.

  3. Christine Cullen

    I really empathise with you Mike having taken early retirement and reducing my pension to care for my mother and husband until they both died in the same year.
    It’s hard sometimes but not all of the time!
    It’s hard to get through the day sometimes and it’s hard when the illness of the cared-for one talks, shouts or argues at you and to remember it’s not them doing it but their frustration and pain. It’s just as hard if you lose them, and then you live with all the “woulda coulda shouldas” until you come to terms with the last few years of their and your lives and get some peace about it.
    Family and friends, if you have them close by, are your lifeline. Use them. If not, take every opportunity you can for a regular break from caring. Fight for respite care of some sort. It will benefit and refresh both you and Mrs Mike in the long run.
    Finally, consider your worth as a person. It is huge.
    Carers may often not hear the words “thank you,” when they really need to hear them because a thank you is frequently felt but goes unsaid.
    All carers need to take care of themselves as well, however they can.

  4. Lorraine Hayton

    I fully empathise with you Mike, there are an awful lot of people in your position, that have proved their worth over and over, but because you don’t have a pound sign above your head, the gullible public think it’s ok to denegrate you. No moral compass these days, i despair for the generations that follow on if this is now the norm. Stay strong, keep up ALL your good work, know that you ARE appreciated and WORTHY. ?

  5. Paul Rutherford

    On a ‘stress-caused-by-DWP-related’ note.

    The day a couple of weeks ago now, that the media [including VoxP, I think, or perhaps your FB?], reported our Bedroom Tax win was being made law on 1st April, plenty of people were quite chuffed. Some were asking me for my thoughts, but I declined any interviews…

    Why?

    Because a brown envelope had come in the morning post. Nothing less than a WCA50 form for Sue to complete, courtesy of our most favourite bad-losers, none other than the DWP… on *that* day?? Really?

    Come on…

    This is the first time I’ve mentioned this. I I’d like someone, somewhere to come up with *something* plausible to convince me it was just pure coincidence.

    Sue’s ‘happy-pill’ prescription has been increased by her GP as a result… for yes, depression.

    And they’re challenging Jayson & Charlotte Carmichael’s Bedroom Tax win at the FTT, despite winning in the Supreme Court with us, saying the judge wasn’t able to base his judgement on the Human Rights Act.

    And me… ? I’m just going quietly f***ing insane.

    Here.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You, me and all the rest of us, Paul.

      And no – there’s no way that was a coincidence. Usually the envelope drops the next day so clearly they perfected their timing just for you.

  6. Prickly

    Thank you Mr Mike – you are appreciated by this reader of your site. Interesting article getting both points of view – the carer and the ill person – across.

  7. Wanda Lozinska

    You’re a real hero Mike – your situation is very difficult indeed, so well done!
    Best wishes

  8. Kentish lad

    I am in a loving relationship with a woman, my wife, who has been my partner in everything for the past 35 years, but in recent years has been chair-bound due due chronic severe pain. When I read your piece my first thought was “Thank God it’s not just me”. When we have the screaming fit of rage because the house isn’t spotless it’s hard to bear, but I hold myself in by understanding that it’s not just me she’s raging at, it’s herself and it’s her frustration that she can’t do the things that she used to do.
    We haven’t got issues with the DWP because my wife won’t face up to acknowledfing that she is disabled – only recently filled in the Blue Badge form. I can’t ever see us getting as far as registering for any disability benefits – not that there will be any left soon.

  9. marcusdemowbray

    Great piece of writing Mike, and all the best in your Caring work AND in you playing on your computer! Both sometimes seem tough and thankless. Your computer playing has made a huge difference to many people and helps more people to see the tyranny and corruption of our Mis-Government.

  10. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    Thank you Mike for sharing that with us and I am sure that we all appreciate both situations. Certainly the carer should have support as such a responsibility, even given with love, can be extremely wearing and depressing.

    Vox is a marvellous help to many of us in these times of extreme unfairness due to the Conservative policies and I admire your strength of character and determination to keep fighting for decency for every one; the more so in view of your own situation.

    I send my very best wishes to both you and Mrs. Mike.

    Rupert

  11. Neilth

    ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ to coin a phrase. You’re right the cared for lashes out at the nearest person when really they’re frustrated and angry at their illness. Problem is that knowing that doesn’t make the cutting remarks or disregard less hurtful.

    I too have caring duties but in my case it’s for my 96 year old movement impaired, Alzheimer’s affected mother. She still lives in her own flat as she is still compos mentis to a large degree but her memory is extremely poor.

    She gets carer support from the council 4 times a day for a total of about 2 hours plus one two hour shift each week to clean and do her laundry. I go every day for as long as I can while the carers aren’t there to keep her company. I also do all her shopping and manage her bills etc.

    I have my own family including an adult daughter who lives at home but has been off work for about six months as she is in constant agony from trigeminal neuralgia (described in most literature as the worst pain you can experience).

    Life can still be fun though. Not least posting on this site and debating with you and others.

    It’s in the nature of the role that those of us who care for loved ones are taken for granted. The praise my mother gives to occasional visitors etc especially if they take her out in her wheelchair for a bit is fulsome and often coupled with ‘that was wonderful, I never see anyone most days’. What the #### am I?

    I’m sure you found getting it off your chest helped relieve the tension a little. It’s easy to forget that people in your position can feel isolated and like they’re the only one but there are many thousands of us out here who are labouring under the same burdens and fighting the same fights against a brutal, uncaring government.

    Keep on keeping on and remember we all support what you are doing by hosting this site and you certainly have my respect for the way you are coping with your personal circumstances

  12. peskirabbit

    Sending loads of appreciation for your amazing site and all the work you do on it. The fact that you are also doing caring as well makes it doubly worthy of respect. And caring does become twice or three times more difficult than it is anyway when the person involved is rude or ungrateful. For your own sake and for the sake of all of us out here who rely on your site for some truth and insight in this madness, please do all you can to avoid the dreaded carer burnout! It creeps up unnoticed until suddenly one day one can snap either in oneself or at the patient, sometimes in weird and subtle ways.

  13. wildswimmerpete

    Yes Mike, your efforts are very much appreciated. Blogs like yours, Skwarkbox and The Canary are the things that will eventually wear down the DWP and its Tory masters. When it came to my turn for harassment by Atos to begin (as it was then) I qualified for Pension Credit and was able to escape the attentions of Jokecentre Minus because despite my suffering a major stroke (including loss of speech) combined with Stage III heart failure I would have definitely been found “Fit to Work”.

    How is Mrs. Mike doing?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      This morning her hips are playing up. She describes it as being like toothache, but all around her hip area.

  14. Barry Davies

    Wife must be high on the list then she is a full time nurse who looks after me the rest of the time as my registered carer, i thought Farmers were the highest risk of suicide, but then do the figures reflect those who are successful those who attempt?

  15. John Spencer-Davis

    Dear Mike,

    My job is to support people with dementia and their carers and families with their quality of life in the home. I also take medication for long-term depression, although I do not suffer as badly as Mrs M (or, vicariously, yourself).

    I never fail to be astonished, and humbled, by the stoicism and generosity displayed by carers and families towards the people they love and care for. You guys get on with a life so challenging and difficult that nobody would choose it, and most of the time you do so with little or no appreciation or reward and with a remarkable commitment to making the best of things and staying as cheerful as you can. Not to mention that unpaid carers save the state literally tens of billions of pounds per year, for which they receive a pittance in carer’s allowance if the rules allow them to receive it at all. Something which should be rooted deeply in everyone’s awareness, but which is hardly publicised widely by the government.

    Not only do you cope with that, but you also find the time to perform the most amazing service for everyone else with your incredibly informative, uplifting and entertaining blog. I don’t think you are told enough just how important the work you do is, and how much it is appreciated. So I’m taking a few minutes to do so now.

    I am sorry you have evidently been hurt by your recent altercation. It won’t do any good to tell you not to take it personally, so I’ll just offer you a simple tip. Suppose this had happened to your best friend. What words of comfort and advice would you offer your best friend? Please think that through, and then try your best to offer that same comfort and advice to yourself.

    You are thoroughly valued, Mike. Take care and I wish both you and your wife well.

    John

  16. Robert Fillies

    As well as looking after Mrs Mike please take care of youself too. Thank you for what you do.

  17. David Young

    Since discovering your site I have come to rely on your invaluable posts to educate me in what is really going on in politics – – -many, many thanks for that. Now I discover that you are at the same time doing the hardest job in the world.. I was completely stunned and humbled by your posting. I can only echo the sentiment of others and say do try to be kind to yourself also.

  18. Richard Rogers

    I know how hard it is, I’ve been a full time carer for my disabled wife for 15 years. Not too bad for us re. DWP, as my wife is now past retirement age, but age creates more and more complications. I too “play on the computer”, it’s my escape, I can’t leave the house for more than about 30 minutes, unless I get her out into the WAV to go with me, and can never be more than a few minutes drive away. I didn’t ask for this life, and my wife didn’t ask for her disability, we have to make the best of our situation, as you do Mike, it’s not easy, but we carry on, all day every day, thousands of us, with precious little help from the state.

  19. Signor tbf

    MIKE

    Hard to give advice, but just imagine the reaction of the Feeding Seal & IDS on reading this. They don’t deserve the chance to gloat any further.

    You are too valuable to lose in the fight for a decent world-best wishes to you & Mrs Mike.

    Steve

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I’m not going anywhere and nobody on the wrong side has any reason to gloat.

  20. Florence

    Mike, you do an amazing job on the written work, and I’m sure you bring the same work ethic to the rest of your life,and I’m sure Mrs M, even in her darkest times will know you’re amazing. How do I know about Mrs M? Because that’s me too. Its anyone whose life is robbed by chronic illness and the pain oh the pain, that cannot ever be described but you know when you’ve got it. I too have my OH carer, who bears the brunt too. I have devised a way of trying to restore some balance about all the same problems you have so clearly and bravely written today. I too have been known to sprout horns and breath fire and end up with singed and crispy OH. So here goes:-

    (1) I hired a cleaner for two hours a week. Its not a luxury, its restored my sanity over not being able to do it myself. She knows its her job to get it “woman clean”, and she’s lovely. I always look forward to her coming and over. I no longer stress about the corners and cobwebs or the dog hair under the sofa. Worth every penny from my DLA.

    (2) I don’t expect OH to understand pain but just to tell him whenever it suddenly flares and I have to stop. I don’t try and soldier on until I erupt. I get pain so bad it blacks me out to pin hole vision, so I have to be kinder to myself before it gets so bad, to be kinder to OH.

    (3) I have had to lower my overly high standards, to accept what is possible under the circumstances. I’m not quite a slob yet, but there’s hope yet. But disorder does make my mind scramble (common with depression and pain). I have been training OH for over 35 years now and he still can’t put the scissors back in the drawer. I have to accept that won’t change, but he does stuff I can’t do, so I have made my peace. As long as my immediate environment is tidy, I have trained myself not to look elsewhere. Its ” good enough”to keep.the peace. ( And I’ve hidden scissors just for me.)

    Of course this isn’t a panacea and everyone has different needs, its just how we have negotiated our way through. But really, get a cleaner for a couple of hours a week. It has been a huge change for the better. (Mine is lovely and I’ve been able to help her with pip and ESA claims for her adult LD sons, so feel I can do stuff too, which is also important.) Having a cleaner has made me feel better about inviting friends and neighbours to pop in so I’m less isolated, too., although I’m not sure it actually looks any different, i know, and that’s what counts. Just a thought, but being isolated is one of the worst things about disability.

    1. Christine Cullen

      I wish I’d hired a cleaner when my husband was alive and I was his main carer, to stop me becoming frazzled! 11 years on and slowing up myself, I’ve done that now.
      Great idea if finances can stretch. Even 2 hours per fortnight to hoover, dust and give the bathroom a going over makes a huge difference and I keep things ticking over myself in the meantime. It would have made a big difference 11 years ago but I didn’t realise it, just carried on! I hope this is possible for Mike.

    2. katythenightowl

      Like yourself, Florence I, too, have my OH as my Carer and, as Mike so brilliantly described about his own situation I, too, would lash out at my husband when I was so bad with my pain and depression, that I couldn’t hold it in any more.
      As my hubby is the only person I see from one week to another, there is rarely anyone else for me to focus my despair, depression, fury, and never-ending pain on, so it has, and still does occasionally, build and build, until I’d burst out with things that I would never mean when thinking clearly.
      I had spent years blaming myself for becoming disabled, even though I knew it was genetics that had caused it, and then I spent a few more taking it out on my poor, loving, patient, kind, husband!
      Being rather OCD, it was the housework that I focussed on, too, which was made worse by the fact that hubby was becoming more and more disabled himself, from a past injury – but not admitting it – and so was getting more and more behind with keeping the house even tidy, let alone clean.
      But it was only after I’d helped him to face the fact that he, too, was becoming unable to cope with it all, that I was able to persaude him to let me pay for a cleaner, as you did, so that things were eased a little for us both.
      Nowadays we do our best to care for each other, and the house and garden are looked after by others, paid for by my DLA (I’m just going through the changeover to PIP, so am dreading the thought of having to fight to keep it), but we both still have days when the pain or depression, or both, rear up, and we end up hurting each other, without meaning to.
      I think if Carers and their clients were given more help, both physically and mentally, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, but we’ve had nobody to give us any respite from each other for many years now, and I can’t see it getting any better for the foreseeable future, either.
      I guess all we can do, if we are caring for, or are cared for, by family, is to remember to tell them how much we love them, and how much we appreciate their help – it does, at least, help to ease the pain of the hasty words that can tear our emotions to bits :/

  21. hugosmum70

    thank you Mike. you have just opened my eyes to the carers world.i have a carer. we constantly argue. (family member) though she says we dont ,we just have tiffs, though sometimes they land up big rows going on for 3/4 hrs at times.but each altercation upsets me a lot. i do take it to heart,unfortunately. ive always been pretty sensitive. this past year she herself has been pretty ill. so its been a case of i do what i can for her(not a lot i might add,just bits. ) and she does what she can for me best we can. and muddle through the rest.but yes we do tend to get on each others nerves . more so this past year.im getting older, and my conditions not getting better. in some ways worse. (unstable diabetes for one, one dr thinks its the stress of worrying about my family and other things, including not being able to keep my place as clean as i used to.my carer cant understand that i could stress over her being ill). the diabetic nurse tho,(nurse practitioner) says im eating too much, yet im very gradually losing weight. not over months but the past 8 yrs or so.from 14stone when i stopped smoking down to 11stone .my obsession with getting the blood sugar down annoys my carer. but she herself has no friends as such, few visitors, and although recovering from the illness of last year. she now knows she has 3 life changing conditions.so has a lot to contend with. i too have many different conditions to cope with. so its like we are hitting brick walls at times.she doesnt want to know about my problems because she has enough of her own. we are /and keep trying to sort through it all but shes not one for talking about her feelings and does not want authorities coming in. (not even a stranger to redecorate hr bedroom)very private person she is. neither do i for that matter,i dread the thought of one day being made to go into a care home. doubt social services can help in this anyway. its not like its abuse after all. just 2 people trying to lookb after each other really, me as a mother her as my carer.
    anyway, i agree with everything people above have said. you do a good job here and in your life. i now have something else to think about. and how to resolve my problem and put less stress on her.

  22. Sam

    Wow, great idea there. Force paranoid schizophrenics, like one of my relatives, into stressful situations. I’m sure that’s safe and helpful for everyone.

      1. Sam

        Ha sorry wrong article. Still no censorship here 🙂 Continue the great work anyway, shockingly under reported in the UK

  23. Lynn Dye

    Well done, Mike, in all that you do. Your blogs are always insightful and helpful, and this one brings home to many of us the personal side of long term illnesses/disabilities and of course being a carer. I think you do an amazing job, and I’m sure Mrs. Mike knows this deep down.

  24. Diane Miles

    I am extremely grateful for what you do,and am sorry that you and Mrs Mike have to suffer so much pain.

  25. Beverley Rawsthorn

    I’ve enjoyed your writing for several years now and very much appreciate it and think it keeps you sane! I also very much understand where you’re coming from as I have fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis to name but a couple, with very limited mobility and I’m also a full-time carer of my disabled daughter who has autism, adhd and LD, I honestly don’t know how I keep going most of the time other than I don’t have a choice. I also find it all more manageable by not thinking about it all or as little as I can and just getting on with it. Best wishes to you and your wife.

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