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Jobcentre staff 'sent guidelines on how to deal with claimants' suicide threats'


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http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/08/jobcentre-staff-guidelines-suicide-threats

 

 

Staff working for jobcentres and other Department for Work and Pensions contractors have been given guidelines on how to deal with suicide threats from claimants as the squeeze on benefits takes hold.

 

A document sent to jobcentre staff in April details what it calls a "new policy for all DWP businesses to help them manage suicide and self-harm declarations from customers".

 

The guidelines include a "six-point plan" for staff to follow which says: "Some customers may say they intend to self-harm or kill themselves as a threat or a tactic to 'persuade', others will mean it. It is very hard to distinguish between the two … For this reason, all declarations must be taken seriously."

 

The internal document was sent to the Guardian by a senior jobcentre employee who has worked for the DWP for more than 20 years. It was accompanied by a letter from the source that said: "Absolutely nobody has ever seen this guidance before, leading staff to believe it has been put together ahead of the incapacity benefit and disability living allowance cuts."

 

The employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "We were a bit shocked. Are we preparing ourselves to be like the Samaritans? The fact that we've dealt with the public for so many years without such guidance has made people feel a bit fearful about what's coming."

 

The DWP said that the new guidelines were not related to any recent policy changes and had been in development since 2009. "This guidance is about supporting our staff and ensuring we can help our customers.

 

"It is right that a customer-facing organisation that serves over 20 million, including the most vulnerable in our society, has guidance such as this in place."

 

The team leader said the guidance had alarmed people in their team: "We've suddenly got this new aspect to our job. The bigger picture is people here are wondering how savage these cuts are going to be. And we're the frontline staff having to deal with the fallout from these changes. "

 

Julie Tipping, an appeals officer for Disability Solutions, represents claimants who try to overturn decisions made following work capability assessment tests that they are fit for work.

 

She says that in the last year, two of her clients have made "real attempts" at suicide after a decision was made that they were fit for work. Both were taken to hospital and subsequently sectioned.

 

"It's real and true. A lot of people think these people are crying wolf to get their money, but that's not the case. They are suffering from real problems and can't face it any more."

 

Tipping said the pressure on vulnerable clients was "the cumulative effect of all these welfare changes. The test is simply not fit for purpose for assessing mental health problems. That's on top of moving people on to jobseeker's allowance, and all of the conditionality and risk of sanctions that goes with that."

 

The Guardian revealed last month that some jobcentres were setting targets for advisers to stop people's benefits for not meeting conditions attached to their jobseeker's allowance.

 

A whistleblower said that the pressure on staff was leading to vulnerable claimants being targeted for sanctions. The targets have since been removed. But thousands of claimants of incapacity benefit and employment support allowance are being reassessed to see if they should be considered fit for work and moved on to jobseeker's allowance.

 

Another jobcentre adviser said: "People have been coming off sickness benefits and thrown onto jobseeker's allowance. It's problematic because some customers are clearly not fit to work, and they are clearly very distressed. When you sense this you feel really upset because the system is allowing them to get like this and you feel part of the processing machine."Eleanor Lisney, of Disabled People Against Cuts, said that the thought of being moved on to jobseeker's allowance was like a sword hanging over the heads of disabled groups and she feared an increase in related suicides

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Does that mean there will be lines of genuinely disabled people, thrown off their benefits, whereas before we were told the support was not begrudged and the wanted to support us, but now they dont and we are ****, does that mean we will all be lined up in straight jackets?

 

What do these descision makers up high expect?

 

Or more so are they just tying to cover their backs, knowing what is going to happen when on our dark days?

 

Oh we did our best, we tried to id who was at risk !!!! With the proven pressure already heaped on dwp staff they cant stop people going over the edge.

 

Heres a suggestion if dwp are reading, stop treating disabled like poop and they will keep their desperate statements, some might be manipulative as hinted in the statement but most just desperate calls for help and we will all be okay.

 

No mental ill person mentions suicide without desperation, you dont choose to do it, you see when mentally ill you cant control it and just hope the thoughts stay away.:-(

 

................

 

Dream over the dwp are just covering their backs and thats me having a go at those up high, not those in the offices and phones who will take the desperate calls.

 

What do they expect when mental health is a see saw, we have arms and legs and when judged as workshy **** if is hard to switch off.

 

-----------------

 

If the disabled are work shy where are all the jobs ready to protect us, except us and under dda rules look after us?

 

hhhHHHHMMM, yep there arent any, future employee and bargepole comes to their mind xx

 

They consider us hastle and we can be made to apply for this or that all they like if fail atos tests, but that does not mean will get accepted as an employee and then the illnesses will take over, what do they expect, I look at myself and as though cant control most of it, it is not rocket science is it, we dont need to train as doccies to see people will hurt themselves and thats not me threatening just incase dwp are looking in.

 

Maybe atos should crawl in our ears and have a look, oops daft suggestion, they will next be looking in your ear to say yep your brain looks free of mental disturbance,hahahahahha

 

You might have gathered this makes me so angry, we get judged by all sorts. I cant stop what happens to me, so why should I be judged for it, it makes us feel **** what do they expect.

 

Gonna go now as getting upset, but hey thats me xx :(

Edited by watchinginvestigation2011
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Guest jsa12

this is totally disgusting and more additional scandal,any employee would be distressed and concerned at being faced with such distressing outlines.

 

the job centre are increasingly looking to sanction at the point of signing through job seeker agreements not being on the dotted line,this by obvious nature is going to target those of disability or poor understanding,many of these agreements are drawn up by advisers pushing for as much input as they possibly can,the claimant is pressurised because quite naturally of the feeling of being pressured.

 

peoples right are being trodden on right left and center by this department.faced with economic collapse they are seeking more and more cunning and deceitful ways of depriving people of a pittance.

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this is totally disgusting and more additional scandal,any employee would be distressed and concerned at being faced with such distressing outlines.

 

the job centre are increasingly looking to sanction at the point of signing through job seeker agreements not being on the dotted line,this by obvious nature is going to target those of disability or poor understanding,many of these agreements are drawn up by advisers pushing for as much input as they possibly can,the claimant is pressurised because quite naturally of the feeling of being pressured.

 

peoples right are being trodden on right left and center by this department.faced with economic collapse they are seeking more and more cunning and deceitful ways of depriving people of a pittance.

 

xx Exactly, they add the pressure and then want get out clause.

 

What worries me when my time comes, is I know how when soemthing is explained to me how I can have forgot it the next day. Goes same with notes, medication, things to do. I know me and if poorly can forget what week we are in let alone day. Just had a creepy dream where I was told I was dying and think it was to do with the asthma attack I had yesterday, just got it under control before calling to go to a and e as couldnt breath, the asthma is a pain at the mo, but the dream has spooked the hell out of me, there was a line of us all being told we were terminal, complete with sobbing and shaking heads meaning no hope.

 

Think the asthma attack caused me to be spooked last night, but if I was due to appt today I couldnt as too spooked to leave the house as cant switch off and agraphobia sneaks in to I guess guessing at me becasue I am not a doccy of course, its to make things go away.

 

Summed up to if I was having to sign on I would be in the s*** due to them not being in my head xx

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Just my 2ps worth here as a mental health nurse - it's not always the ones who verbally threaten suicide you need to worry about. Look at the quiet withdrawn person who won't make eye contact with you and just agrees with what's being said.

 

In my experience, the ones who don't say anything about suicide are the ones who do it and unfortunately succeed. No amount of dwp guidelines will 'solve' this problem. The whole department stinks and needs to be binned and started from scratch IMHO x

"In this situation, you know what you have to do? Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming." Dory - Finding Nemo.:wink:

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I totally agree. This whole attitude by the government is waaaaaay out of line now. I'm stunned that most of the media have turned a blind eye to whats going on with all of this right now. Do they honestly think that from now on nobody will get sick, suffer a life altering accident, or themselves or their relatives become disabled?

 

God you really have to be forever young and rich in this country to be treated like a human being don't you?

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I wonder how they would handle someone who calmly advised them that they had decided a 'rational suicide' was preferable to dealing with them or living at such a reduced level.

 

I'm also very curious as to why this has not had more publicity.

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I wonder how they would handle someone who calmly advised them that they had decided a 'rational suicide' was preferable to dealing with them or living at a reduced level of quality.

 

I'm sure given the DWP past track record they would totally ignore them. Hell why change the habit of a lifetime eh?

 

There were leaked reports from far earlier this the above that that IDS and the DWP were prepared for deaths due to their cruel policies so all of this is just to cover their arses, of that I'm sure. The disabled and sick that fall by the wayside due to their policies are just seen as 'collateral damage' thats all.:(

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Sadly the DWP are meant to do many things, and they never do, so I doubt these leaked guidelines will be any different.

 

Remember their own staff are under threat of loosing their jobs, so those left behind will be even more stressed out and I suspect won't be in the best position to think things through.

 

People have already died due to Cameron's polices and they've taken no notice.

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I will be honest. I have been talking on here how I feel the last couple of months, but have never once told any doctor or the mental health that I get suicidal. I always know to say no due to being aware I am a single mum. They know from suicide attempts years ago taking too much epilim deliberately but i say no, just hoping they will get me the right sort of councelling.

 

I am fortunate in being a coward and hating pain, so just withdraw from my epilpesy meds and know silently what I am doing. Have to be careful or they start threatening to send a nurse round each day to see me take them and then I get ill for feeling watched.

 

I did once ring an epilepsy help number and was told it is not unknown for epileptics to do this.

 

Doestn help when having a outer body experience or whaterver they truly are, that it felt so safe, calm and no panic. Heaven.

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We all have the guidance saved on our desk tops for such scenarios, have had to use it once and it was horrible.

Yes the ones who shout loudly that they are going to leave and end it all are the ones who automatically get your attention and yes I panicked like hell hearing those words down the phone. (The call I had was a misplaced call for a different office in Scotland and i'm based in the West Midlands so absolutely no idea of the area, what services are available etc.

Someone posted about the quiet people who refuse or are unable to make eye contact and yes they are undoubtedly the worst as you simply don't know what to do or what they are contemplating.

 

I have always endeavoured to treat anyone I have contact with exactly how I would like to be treated myself and since posting on here again (after getting a bit of flack last time a few years ago) I try to be even more considerate however I am one small voice in a very big organisation.

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Even the small voices make a difference to those who get through to you instead of someone else, flumps. The direct dial number of a good DWP adviser was like gold in our organisation. But with the call centre's that's stopped.

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Someone posted about the quiet people who refuse or are unable to make eye contact and yes they are undoubtedly the worst as you simply don't know what to do or what they are contemplating.

 

That's very true. I've had problems with depression and self-harm for about 9 years now. When I was having problems last year, my friend and the people I lived with, weren't aware of how I was really feeling until my friend called the police, after I'd sent him a text.. Similar happened before - I made a rant on another forum, which he came across and confronted me about it. To this day, I have never told him that I'd been feeling this way for a few weeks now.

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How can DWP say what they did to me was right? I have PTSD, and back along in 2009 when it all started I had no choice but to apply for benefit for the first time in my life. After 30 years of full time work. Now, at this time the PTSD was sneakily taking a hold, masking itself by reactive depression. I was violently angry all the time or otherwise just a sobbing blob. I was clearly very unwell, and looking back now it was bad. MY GP could see what was happening with me, and thankfully got me to a decent psychiatrist, medication and therapy began and now two years down the line i am far better, but this PTSD is always going to be with me - and it changes you.

 

Well, right at the start, even though it was made clear to DWP what was wrong with me, they knew best. They actually forced me to attend 3 interviews with a so called disabilities adviser. I was starving as i coulnd't eat even if i could afford it, I was unable to keep myself clean without someone forcing me, and I had assaulted two people who got in my way and made me panic when I had no choice but to actually go out of the house. So I felt vile, I was angry and confused, sobbing constantly, looking a right state as by now all my clothes had worn out, and yet they made me go three times to the breakfast area of a local hotel for these bloody interviews! Imagine, me in a state like that, sitting with these two women who were trying to get me to tell them what was wrong with me, in earshot of all and sundry, even holiday makers eating their breakfast with thier kids! I will never, ever be able to go to that hotel ever again - I am so embarassed. I was so confused and distraught that I couldn;t understand half of what they were saying to me. And the danger to people around me - I had to keep my eyes firmly on the floor in case one of them looked at me the wrong way - because i was at the time so very violent.

 

And, after all of that even, i still got turned down by some decision maker somewhere and had to appeal, which I won. But why oh why do these DM's think they know better than a consultant psychiatrist? They only had to look at my work record to see that I was unlikely to be [causing problems] the system!

 

But now, its only made me more determined to get every miserable penny out of them that I can.

 

Well done to whoever leaked that document and anyone on here who works for the DWP and helps out. Punch and Judy should be called upon to explain that document and make everyone aware of the attitude of this Govt - they are expecting people to commit suicide over what is being done. But they are saying that is ok?! I suppose it's ok because if you are dead, once you've beeen disposed of you then cost nothing to anyone ever again. Where are they going to site the communal graves I wonder?

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Guest jsa12

really for most its just best to avoid this bull by just avoiding the confrontation,its just a case of taking the proof in according to the jobseekers agreement each time signing its amazing the frustration shown lately by some staff when they cannot fault, including sometimes the big mouth.

 

anyone with a disabilty is fairly bullet proof at a tribunal and no one should take any decision by low level staff to refer sanctions',the people most affected are the ones that have the most case of argument.

 

the problem arises that people with mental health problems are ones most discriminated against hence the highest numbers of any disability to be found out of work and targeted by the government equally are to be found in the job centre,what this adds up to is a trigger for relapse into illness.because of this the department is very quick to back down when challenged in individual cases.

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