43% of disabled claimants under Tories attempt suicide. McVey still on board of Samaritans

Last month, the Independent carried the horrifying news that between 2007 and 2014, the number of disabled benefit claimants who had attempted to take their own lives had more than doubled from twenty-one percent to forty-three percent:

indie suic.png

Ministers were warned in secret reports that DWP (Dept of Work and Pensions) handling of disabled people were heightening the risk of suicides, while a Labour MP claimed in last month that a new parliamentary report ‘blew out of the water’ government claims that its policies were not linked to suicide rates among claimants.

Yet Esther McVey – co-architect with Iain Duncan Smith of DWP policies during her first stint with the department and now heading it in her second – is still a member of the ‘advisory board’ of the Samaritans charity that provides a helpline for people struggling with suicidal thoughts.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Samaritans to ask how this could possibly be appropriate in the circumstances. A Samaritans spokesperson confirmed that Ms McVey is still on the board and said:

Samaritans’ vision is that fewer people die by suicide and we work with individuals, organisations, politicians and policy makers across the spectrum to help achieve this.

Esther McVey joined Samaritans’ Advisory Board when Chair of the British Transport Police Authority, which is one of the partners we work with to reduce suicides in the rail environment.

Our Advisory Board provides informal support to Samaritans, helping us increase our potential to influence and fundraise. For example, it played a key role in the launch of our 116 123 free to call number, which removed any barrier to calling us in terms of cost, by supporting our work with telecoms companies and funders. The Advisory Board has no legal or governance role in Samaritans and elects its own Chair and members.

Details of the Chair and members of the advisory board can be found here.

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  1. Present regime obviously learned a lot from the nazis. If you launch a pogrom, do it thoroughly.

  2. Can you imagine feeling really desperate and lonely and legitimately in despair about your life – phoning the samaritans – and getting mcvile on the end of the phone – err, what’s up la, can’t yer cope, go ahead and kill yerself save us some cash but don’t blame me – AGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH

  3. Didn’t the research say 43% had “considered” suicide, not “attempted”? It is still horrific, as a member of the community, to know how much suffering this reveals, the despair of literally millions. This does not reduce the validity or purpose of your article, which as always nails the point. Personal friends reported a huge number of ppl becoming suicidal when her appointment was announced, because we remember what she was like before. She has no shred of humanity.

    1. No. It says “Proportion of those *attempting* to take their own lives soars from 21 per cent to 43 per cent in seven years”

  4. Thank you for this article. I had no Idea Esther Mcvey was on the Board of the Samaritans. Words fail me. It seems there is no organisation we can trust. My first reaction was it ‘must be a sick joke’ followed by ‘is it April Fools day’. The person who has caused so much fear, unhappiness, dread and unfairness is on the Board of the biggest charitable organisation for those contemplating suicide. To the Samaritans I can only say are you mad, are you looking for customers or is someone looking to cosy up to the government for a knighthood. I am shocked and despair for all who are sick and vulnerable.

  5. That was one of the questions asked of me by my assessor, at my last PIP assessment – not something I would have been able to face, with any kind of equanimity, if I hadn’t already been warned about it!
    My assessor had the grace to apologise, before she asked it!

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