Coffee House

Ed Miliband must be careful when he talks about suicide

29 May 2014

4:19 PM

29 May 2014

4:19 PM

Jim Waterson’s BuzzFeed interview with Ed Miliband is well worth a read. But the opening paragraph stands out in particular:

‘Ed Miliband was in Nottingham last Tuesday when a man approached him to say that his part-time job at a petrol station wasn’t paying enough to take care of two children. This is an anecdote of the sort Miliband is always telling in his campaign to lower Britain’s cost of living, but what the man said next was “chilling.”

‘“He was really, really desperate because he felt couldn’t properly provide for his family,” Miliband recalls. “He was thinking of ending it all because he just couldn’t make ends meet.”

‘“Suddenly bacon sandwiches look slightly beside the point,” Miliband says.’

That word ‘because’, which suggests a direct link between government policies or government failure and a suicide is a high-risk political tactic. High-risk in the sense that simple causal links are the sort of thing that journalists are expressly advised to avoid in their reporting of these deaths. Here is an extract from the Samaritans’ guidelines on the subject:

‘Approximately 90 per cent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health problem at the time of death.

‘Over-simplification of the causes or perceived ‘triggers’ for a suicide can be misleading and is unlikely to reflect accurately the complexity of suicide.

‘For example, avoid the suggestion that a single incident, such as loss of a job, relationship breakdown or bereavement, was the cause.

‘It is important not to brush over the complex realities of suicide and its devastating impact on those left behind.’

In Bridgend in 2007-09, police became suspicious that newspaper coverage of a spate of teenage suicides was leading to more deaths. Why? Because if someone reading a report of a suicide is encouraged to think that the circumstances the deceased person was in were the cause of that death, and the reader happens to be in similar circumstances themselves, then they may think that their only option is to kill themselves too. Left-wing campaigner Ellie Mae O’Hagan has written before about the dangers of the newspapers being simplistic on this issue: politicians should be similarly careful.

This is not an attempt to defend all the government’s benefit cuts or policies or to dismiss the cost-of-living crisis as something that does not put serious pressure on families. The ‘bedroom tax’ has a stupid name but it is also a pretty stupid policy, as it takes no account of a tenant’s ability or efforts to move. The Work Capability Assessment is poorly-designed and will remain flawed when a new contractor replaces Atos to carry out the tests. Flawed policies remain flawed whether or not the people affected by them take their own lives: suicide is not in any way an effective measure of how badly a government has messed up.

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A few months ago I mentioned in my column a friend who had fallen acutely mentally ill. His crisis was connected to something entirely prosaic that politicians will never be able to ban, and many of the suicides that do take place in this country, if they do have a discernible trigger point, stem from similar occurrences. Ed Miliband will not, even if he confounds his critics and turns out to be a fantastic Prime Minister, be able to stop people in desperate circumstances contemplating suicide.

What those in crisis, like my friend, need the most from politicians is not a promise that they’ll get rid of all the things that seem to make their illness worse – that would be quite impossible – but for them to work on giving patients better and quicker access to talking therapies, and for crisis care not to be so patchy across the country. A seven month wait for the former is not good enough. Health professionals fear that other patients’ lives are at risk because of the latter.

I’ve always written that Ed Miliband strikes me as a decent politician – I said it again earlier this week – but this is not particularly decent behaviour. He mentioned mental health recently at Prime Minister’s Questions, albeit the one before the Budget so that no-one paid a great deal of attention. But it was still heartening to hear it mentioned at all, and it’s heartening that politicians are starting to compete a little more over who has the best offer for those with mental illnesses. It’s never going to be the top issue along with the economy and issues such as immigration, but mental ill health affects one in four people, so mulling how to offer voters something on this area is reasonably smart.

What’s not heartening is the performance of so many mental health trusts, and the shortage of beds that sees people at their very lowest ebb being driven hundreds of miles before somewhere sufficiently safe can be found for them. Or the waiting lists for talking therapies that leave people who need help languishing, their conditions often worsening.

If Miliband wants to show that he takes suicide seriously, then he must be careful not to suggest it is as simple as he seems to imply and he could instead pour a little bit more effort into campaigning on the mental health care that many of those people need in order to turn away from those dark thoughts. His comments to BuzzFeed were at best unhelpful and at worst opportunistic. The party leader who wants to portray himself as decent could do a lot better than this.

P.S. Anyone who does need help should contact the Samaritans. Here’s their website and their number is 08457 909090.

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Show comments
  • Retired Nurse

    Ah! The true face of a government that ‘cares’…perfectly embodied by the the NHS Suicide Prevention Strategy – (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/216928/Preventing-Suicide-in-England-A-cross-government-outcomes-strategy-to-save-lives.pdf ) signed off by ‘Care’ minister Norman Lamb with one hand in 2012, while the other was busy promoting ‘Assisted Dying'( http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/09/lib-dem-minister-norman-lamb-legalise-assisted-suicide?commentpage=1) .

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    Perhaps by ” ending it all” the man wasn’t talking about suicide, but talking about dropping out of the system generally..now that would change the narrative.

  • ukfred

    Some of us wish that Ed would stop talking and simply commit suicide, preferably taking the whole shadow cabinet with him.

  • badtechnician

    I’ve suffered from mental illness in the past, I’ve attempted suicide numerous times however as you can probably tell I’ve been unsuccessful. My last such attempt is now many years ago, well over 20 years but the suicidal thoughts remain.

    I am now a pretty functioning member of society doing well in a stressful job, bizarrely my last suicidal thought was only 30 minutes ago after a particularly ridiculous incident at work. It flashed through my mind “This could all be over if I was dead” and whilst that is attractive I know it isn’t the best way of dealing with the situation.

    Life is a constant battle of keeping these thoughts at bay, the majority of the time it is easy but occasionally it is harder but I’m strong and have managed it for 20 years, I expect to do it for the next 40 or so until the choice of whether to do it myself or not is taken out of my hands.

    Ed was right to say what he said. All it can take is a little incident, event or change of circumstance and a person can decide to take their own life, the stakes are that high. The policies of this government are changing people’s circumstances and people are already making choices. – http://tinyurl.com/nhrtrcb – This and the other cases need the attention Ed is bringing to them.

  • whs1954

    You’re missing the point, which isn’t about mental healthcare, but about the whole worldview and ideology of a man who, depressingly, is still likely to be our next Prime Minister.

    In Miliband’s book if a man has a part time job and can’t make ends meet and feels he wants to commit suicide, that’s the government’s fault. As if the government could or should have a magic wand and get the man a full time job. If we all threaten suicide, will we all be given a pay raise or a promotion or a better job by an omniscient, all-pervasive government? If we feel our job is crap, will the government write me up a better CV and make me more presentable at job interviews?

    Miliband would be right to point out a government can help or hinder the economy in general terms, he could say this government has hindered it (I don’t agree, but it’s at least a reasonable viewpoint), but to suggest it can micro-manage to the point of managing to identify the most suicidal people in the community and make sure they get better jobs is absurd socialism.

  • DavidL

    Politically speaking, Ed talks suicide every time he opens his mouth.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “Ed Miliband must be careful when he talks about suicide”Don`t knock it till you`ve tried it.

    • Cyril Sneer

      If only he would….

  • Rex Hale

    Why doesn’t the Spectator take more of an interest in just how bad and destructive a policy the Bedroom Tax is? It’s such a classic example of The Nasty Party at work that I would have thought there’d be much more consideration given by Cameron to how it might be improved, particularly for those who need an extra room because of family break up or disability.

    • La Fold

      Firstly a reduction in housing benefit is not a tax. In no world can a reduction in monies given to someone for gratis can be seen as a tax. A tax is an arbitary payment ;evied against goods or services. And how about the thousands of families that cant get accomadation because we are subsidisngf people to live in social housing?
      “The Nasty Party”? Are you 15? get a grip.

      • Rex Hale

        Patronising AND rude. Nicely done.

        • La Fold

          No actual answer to my points though eh?

    • Inverted Meniscus

      It isn’t a tax you idiot. Where does it appear in the UK tax code? Please provide a suitable reference.

  • Chingford Man

    I’m no fan of Miliband but I don’t think he was speaking out of order. If someone said that to him, I think from his point of view he was entitled to put it as he did. Whilst much of Isabel’s article is interesting, to use Miliband’s words as the basis for attacking him seems a low blow on her part.

    The MSM went after Farage in a big way prior to the polls. Since then they have laid off him and focused on Miliband and Clegg. Whilst the latter may be fair game, it looks like there is a concerted drive to “Get Miliband” with the kind of character assassination previously directed at Hague, Duncan Smith and Brown. I suspect it is really a “Save Dave” operation by journalists who have not given up on a Tory victory, despite Labour still being likely to win the general election.

    Thanks to Peter Hitchens, whenever I read this kind of article, I ask, “Why is this article appearing now? Whose interests does it serve?” I suggest others do the same.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Maybe the guy couldn’t stand the sound of the Millipede’s voice, and was willing to do anything to get away from it, including leaping off this mortal coil.

    • Kaine

      If you are going to make a joke about suicide, you should at least try and make it funny.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …you’re sorta like the digital version of the Millipede’s voice, lad. You best not post to the Millipede’s buddy .

        • Kaine

          I thought I had a handle on your weird fantasies but I hadn’t expected an arthropod fetish.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …you’re starting to rival that other socialist nutter for gibberish, lad.

            • Kaine

              That’s not even a sentence.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …does that mean it won’t draw another of your deviant projections?

                • Kaine

                  Wait a moment…

                  Bad grammar
                  Weird posting hours
                  Constant incorrect application of political concepts
                  Sexually repressed

                  You’re a Yank aren’t you?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …is that your requisite deviant projection, lad?

            • Inverted Meniscus

              You right. Another socialist nutter spouting gibberish.

    • Cyril Sneer

      The guy is weird, just…. weird.

  • Magnolia

    It upsets me when non-professionals, such as politicians or even journalists think they can pronounce with absolute accuracy on what those with mental illness and that which those at risk of suicide need from government.
    The old asylums provided asylum for people in acute mental distress and there were reams of beds in them that were lost to us all when these particular hospitals were shut down by politicians, with the willing consent of the media, and turned in to desirable residences for rich commuters to live in as purpose built edge of town villages. Property boom anyone?
    Suicide is the terminal end of depressive illness and while I agree with Isabel about the unacceptable wait for so-called talking treatments, any wait for urgent treatment, emergency ECT for example, is unacceptable. The talking cure will not cure all. Some patients (yes) have an endogenous, biological depression which usually responds to drug/physical treatments.
    Suicide can also be an expression of anger, revenge and hostility. A man who tells the leader of the opposition that he will kill himself because he hasn’t got a living wage might be perhaps justifiably expressing verbal anger at the politician who, as a member of the Labour government, oversaw the suppression of wages due to the rise of a ready and willing workforce of people from the EU and to their intervention of tax credits, the latter of which must have been paid for by some of those stealth taxes and the increased public debts.

  • alabenn

    What man in his right mind would go up to a man like Miliband and pour out dreadful personal feelings after a few seconds.
    If this man really did exist and Miliband spoke the truth, what sort of creature would use this poor souls devastating inability to cope, just to put his wrestling with a bacon sandwich into a different context.
    What sort of man would think first of his own self inflicted travails, then use this information to push his political agenda.
    People thought Blair was the master of slime, this man is devoid of any human decency, the rest of his party keep bring these little manufactured life stories into PMQ`s to get maximum television coverage.
    Cameron once asked for the details of one case, maybe he should ask Miliband what he has done about this case.

    By the way what working benefits does someone with two children receive in benefits, it will be a quite substantial sum, it was 12 years ago for someone I knew.

  • pinkgunnergirl

    IDS’s cuts to the benefits of disabled people have resulted in suicides and death. This is fact. Tories and their useful idiots like Isabel have totally ignored this, only the Independent have published a couple of articles referencing it.

    • Andy

      You just saying it does not make it a fact.

  • Saddo

    Miliband almost certainly made up the quote anyway. It’s what politicians do.

  • cromwell

    If the main stream Politicians have made you want to kill yourself, reflect on it, if you kill yourself they have won, they all hate the working class and have sold our jobs down the Yangtze. No if you have nothing to lose rather kill a politician than yourself, you may end up in jail but you will do so for the public good. Libdems first because they are the lesser traitors, Labour next because they are the great betrayers of the working class and tories next because they are and always have been the declared enemy of the worker.

  • Kaine

    I believe from the context that Mr Miliband was relaying what the man had said, rather than stating it as a fact. However it is true that faced with a system (by no means started by his government, but certainly perpetuated by it) in which anyone who attempts to claim assistance for their disability is assumed to be a fraudster, many vulnerable people will give up.

    Of course those who are genuinely on the make usually have the brass neck and low cunning to get past whatever supposed safeguards are put in their way.

  • cromwell

    “Suddenly bacon sandwiches look slightly beside the point,” Miliband says.’ Is that important only because he is Jewish?

    • realfish

      He’s Jewish only when it suits him, though.

  • RavenRandom

    Only the author of the article seems to be surprised that Miliband will do or say anything to get into power. Callously knifing your own brother is something no decent man would ever do. If you still think he’s decent after that you’ve been hoodwinked.

    • HookesLaw

      Correct. The notion of Miliband somehow being decent seems a bit contrived to me. I see him as being totally misguided and wrong headed. Indeed I would suggest he fits and squeezes people and their issues into his preconceived policies solutions and world view. He is a crypto Marxist, he will shoehorn us into that outlook.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …so he’s pretty much exactly like your boy Dave, then?

        • First L

          Dave has not said and done anything to get into power. He hasn’t jumped on bandwagons and he’s been relatively honest for a politician. If Dave says something I would instinctively trust him on it and the past four years has shown that I can do that. If you cut through the vast amount of negative press that Dave attracts, you can usually find that he’s been honest with his words, even if they may not be what you want to hear. If Ed says something I instinctively distrust him, again, the past four years has shown this. Things that come out of Ed’s mouth are usually proven to be wilfully dishonest within minutes, days or weeks.

          • Mynydd

            Was it relatively honest to say, in a party political broadcast that he his paying down the national debt when he knew it was in fact going up.

          • T-W-WEY

            Oh no dave didnt jump on any band wagons did he, no none at all, especially that green band wagon where he never promised us he would “lead the greenest government ever” went on a husky sledge, (presumably filmed at 30 Millbank tower in front of a greenscreen or something), and then when he came to power, cut green subsidies, and promoted fracking as some sort of green energy source.

            No sir-ee that Cameron is a right principled chap, you know how he keeps his cast iron guarantees, i mean it was such a relief when we all unanimously decided to remain in the EU without even needing referendum on the matter, i mean thank god hes prime minister, i don’t think there are any other politicians with such astounding clairvoyance, we sure are lucky!

          • Underground Oli

            He lied about the amounts spent on flood defences since 2010 relative to the amounts spent between ’06 and ’10, and he deliberately misled the public about the amount that had been spent post 2010 because Labour had budgeted for it.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Your post is just pure fantasy. Sorry.

            That above paragraph re Millipede is a pure descriptive of all of the LibLabCon socialist clones, including and especially Dave.

    • Kaine

      DM had no divine right to be leader of the Labour Party, and his failure to convince the movement to support him was his own fault.

    • cromwell

      Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”
      While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
      Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
      “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

      • Andy

        ‘Here endeth the First Lesson. Thanks be to God for these his words. Amen’

    • telemachus

      Come on
      Politics is, has been and always will be a dirty game
      The aim has to be to gain power
      Cameron stabbed the leading candidate of the Tory people, David Davis
      Clegg facilitated the putting out to grass of the Old Man( Ming dynasty)
      There will always be casualties
      Just which casualty you mention tells us a bit about your own politics

      • RavenRandom

        Tel,
        Not even you believe in Miliband, that’s clear. And yes, happy to be a man that wouldn’t step over my brother to get what I want.

        • telemachus

          He is what we have got until we can engineer a charismatic change
          The urgent priority is to get the Osborne Clique out

          • T-W-WEY

            Cameron was never the prime minister, hes just the straw man that Osbourne has put up to deflect the blame this government will be remembered for, then no doubt when Osbourne clicks his fingers Cameron will dutifully move to the side and Osbourne will become leader of a conservative party that would put even Thatcher to shame

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Dave will be disappeared in 11.25 months, and Boy George will disappear with him .

    • Colonel Mustard

      But his “policies” will resonate. He won’t have to deliver on them even if they get him into No.10. The Coalition set themselves up, stupidly, with policies that they ought to have known could be attacked like this or distorted by misrepresentation. Regardless of the rights or wrongs involved benefits are emotive, highly charged issues, especially where it involves the disabled and vulnerable. It looks pretty stupid to boast about saving £18bn in benefits cuts (disputed) at the same time as you are boasting about spending £11bn on foreign aid. What message does that send out about priorities? In addition the government funds charities (and the term is very loose) to the tune of £13bn, but where and who is accountable for any cost benefit case for that largesse?

      The “bedroom tax” is another example. That term was not invented by Labour but created by the Coalition’s own stupid policy. The government currently pays for 40% of its property infrastructure to be used as office space on the basis of 16% more individual space than the private sector, even without considering the “palace” mentality of idiots like Bercow. But instead of a hard drive to get the costs of its own big house down and in order they launch an offensive against council tenants who might have a spare bedroom.

      Anyone with half a brain could and should have warned them off it.

      • Mynydd

        Mr Cameron is driving down government costs, he sacked is own personal photographer.

        • T-W-WEY

          And then gave his hairdresser an OBE.

          pah!

  • HookesLaw

    I can understand why, with a friend with an illness, you have an interest in this. Your comment is fair enough. However there is such a thing as tax credits and other benefits for low paid and families with children. Both you and Miliband could have mentioned this.
    The rate of pay of petrol station attendants is nothing to do with the government. Meantime the govt is mindful of helping people in difficult circumstances… the size of the benefits bill should confirm that.

    • Kaine

      The majority of the benefits bill goes to the over 60s.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Who can also be council tenants and/or disabled…

        • Kaine

          Indeed they can. But to say, as Hooky did, that the size of the benefits bill shows the government is helping people in the same condition as this man doesn’t follow.

          Moreover, the blinding incompetence of the administration of tax credits (which has been going on for years) means many people don’t claim them because of the terror of finding they’ve been overpaid and getting asked to stump up several hundred pounds.

          I need to do more reading on the negative income tax to see whether it would work. There has to be a better alternative to the current system.

  • volcanopete

    The government has to be even more careful as the stats,particularly for men of certain ages,indicate a worrying rise.There needs to be urgent review of the suicide prevention strategy.
    Suicide is still a very important public health indicator which reveals an awful lot about the society within which it occurs.See Durkheim.Read and understand what he says.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Was this man married or in partnership? Was his wife/partner working? Did he live in rented accommodation or with a mortgage? So many unknown factors to be explored before an objective assessment of his circumstances might be made. Let’s have a proper accounting to drive an argument from factual specifics please.

  • London Calling

    We do indeed live in dark times for many and coping with juggling low wages with living costsas it is getting harder to makes ends meet. Suicide is easy to contemplate when feeling so desperate and without a mental health history. We are fragile beings and we should not forget the vunerable in our society………more needs to be done to support vunerable people before they contemplate suicide, sadly many suffer alone and feel hopeless……..I feel for them all.:(.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    ” his part-time job at a petrol station wasn’t paying enough to take care of two children.”

    Must every job provide enough pay to cater for the life circumstances of any individual employee? Why? Who is it whose first reponsibility is to look after and provide for his kids? If a sixteen-year-old does this job, what is his ‘living wage’? Enough to give his Mum a few quid for board and lodging and have a litte left over? Or enough to support a family of five. In a part-time job? There is no relation between what your job entails and what amount of money you need (or want). You just sell your time to the man for whatever you can get for it. If it isn’t enough, the first thing you must examine is yourself. Can you get another job? Can you get some more benefits? Can you change your life circumstances somehow, get a second job, work for yourself, move to a better area, commute a little further. It’s your responsibility.

    • Kaine

      No, it’s all our responsibility. We’re social animals, we look after each other, it’s why we’re so successful as a species.

      • Rhoda Klapp8

        Well, you look after him then. I have no responsibility for him as any kind of a duty. I might choose to help someone sometime, but that is my choice.

        • Kaine

          Yes you do have a moral responsibility. No, that responsibility is not something you get to choose.

          Now you might neglect hat responsibility, many do, which is why we solidify it in the social contract that permits civilisation.

          If you don’t like it, then leave.

          • Rhoda Klapp8

            You are mistaken. The man concerned has the first responsibility for what happens to him. Not me. Not you. And you can’t give me that duty because you feel it yourself, then use your judgment to decide who will give and who will get.

            • Kaine

              And you can’t enjoy the benefits of civilisation and then say you have no duty to your fellow human beings. For if you’re willing to let a man and his children starve, on what basis do you complain when he robs you?

              • The Masked Marvel

                Our success as a species is not due to a history of widespread collectivism. To suggest otherwise is fantasy.

                • Kaine

                  What? We’re a gregarious species who gather in groups and look after the weaker members. There’s piles of anthropological evidence for this going back into prehistory, from our extended childhoods to skeletons of humans who were clearly nursed back to health. Moreover we see exactly this sort of gregarious behaviour to a treated or lesser degree in most mammalian pack hunters, and especially in our closest relatives Bonobos.

                  “I’m alright Jack” doesn’t really work for a primate on the savannah. We’re social animals.

                • Rhoda Klapp8

                  True, within the tribe. Not anything like true with outside groups.

                • Kaine

                  You’re a citizen of the nation, which is how far the current social contract extends. Our current ‘tribe’ is about 60million people.

                • Rhoda Klapp8

                  It worked in the tribe or hunter/gatherer group because everybody was part of it. If anyone didn’t hunt or gather or somehow contribute the group had ways, punishment, shaming, shunning, expulsion. You would have to be seen as a contributor at least most of the time. My hierarchy above does a similar thing. To get my help I would need to perceive the man as deserving then decide on the scale and duration of help. Altruism ought to be informed and voluntary. It cannot be, on a scale of sixty million. And it isn’t even limited to that, the government may send my money to any of seven billion. I do not acknowledge a contract with them. If I have a moral obligation it is my own. I am not subject to other peoples’ moral rules. My obligation to the government is to obey the law or be punished. That is the price of taking part, not some flexible menu of obligations you have worked out for me.

                • The Masked Marvel

                  In small, economically viable family units, sure. But it doesn’t extend further to large numbers in any sustainable way. You cannot extrapolate Neanderthals taking care of grandfather after he’s been on the losing side of one too many mammoth hunts into species-wide collectivism.

                  Millennia of exposing unwanted or insupportable babies didn’t happen in your world? What about large-scale human sacrifice in so many historical cultures? I suppose one could call the Aztecs “gregarious” in that sense.

                • Kaine

                  Except this goes beyond the family unit. The oldest stories we have all ram home the interconnected nature of humanity, from Gilgamesh’s realisation that immortality came from a man’s contribution to the polis, to the scoffing of Homer at the anti-social nature of the Cyclopees.

                  Have we sometimes fallen short? Well yes, especially when our powerlessness in the face of famine or disease have compelled us to be so. And doubly when our fear of the world around us has led to us putting our trust in a parasitic priesthood. But even in cultures where human sacrifice occurred, it was almost always done from a belief that this would save the group, and the sacrifices were as likely to be the kings and chiefs as the poor and the desperate. Even for the Aztecs, you can’t build Tenochticlan without a collective endeavour.

                  I repeat, in the words of Aristotle, man is a social animal. There’s a reason solitary confinement tends to drive us insane.

                • The Masked Marvel

                  So we’ve moved from declaring that collectivism is at the root of our success to “man is a social animal” being your argument? That’s a significant stretch.

                • Kaine

                  You are mistaken. The first comment I made on this discussion was “We’re social animals”. I have not used the word ‘collectivism’.

                • The Masked Marvel

                  You modified that by adding “We look after each other.” As if to extrapolate from the behavior of small, close-knit, economically viable groups of paleolithic peoples. It doesn’t add up.

              • Rhoda Klapp8

                If robbing me is the last resort to feed his kids then I don’t fault his actions. Society would though, it’s against the law. I cannot even take his responsibility for what happens to him. It is not transferable. I might choose to help other folks, but that would be in an order of, possibly, my dependents, me, non-dependent immediate family, distant family, friends, people who are unable to help themselves through illness or age, local people, English, UK, nice countries and so on. If everybody acts that way there is no problem. If everybody abdicates their first responsibility for what happens to them it can’t work. I have no idea how the man in the example or anybody else is fulfilling that responsibility. I suspect badly, on my only clue that he is considering killing himself. What happens to his kids then?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …spoken like a true fascist.

            • Kaine

              Actually it’s The Sermon on the Mount.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …no, actually it’s pure fascism.

                • Kaine

                  Well if Christ was a fascist under your definition then I suppose I’m in good company.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …no, you’re the lone fascist in this discussion, lad.

                • Kaine

                  This isn’t a discussion. This is you, as per usual, using words you don’t understand, repeatedly, because you have a weird obsession with me.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, it’s you issuing your fantasy fascist diktat, lad.

      • Fergus Pickering

        All? If a muslim stones his wife to death how is that my responsibility? Wht are you talking about? Am I responsible for the asinine things you say?

        • Kaine

          That would depend upon a number of factors.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, you fascists always have “factors”.

            And armbands… you’re big on armbands.

  • Anita Bellows

    So if the people who commit suicide after their benefits were cut do so because they were mentally ill, why were their benefits cut?

    • Torontory

      The error is to assume that there is a correlation in this example between the two events; it is far too simplistic.

      • Anita Bellows

        To deny a link is just as simplistic. But that was not my point. If 90% of people who commit suicide have severe mental issues, the question is less whether their loss of benefits led them to kill themselves, but why were their benefits cut in the first place.

        • HookesLaw

          Where does this notion of benefits cuts come from? People can be comfortable but because of a mental illness problem become suicidal. There are a number of examples of successful people committing suicide because of various pressures they feel. Its happened or nearly happened to a number of sportsmen.

          • Anita Bellows

            It comes from documented evidence of people who have committed suicide after their benefits were cut, with explicit reference to the reason. Some were not mentally ill. The article refers to government policies or failure and although it does not mention benefits, it is exactly what this article is all about. If you want to know more, check Calum list.

  • Andy

    Trouble with all this crap is that Hardman, like Miliband, lives in the ‘bubble’. She may say what she likes but IDS reforms are starting to work – I know this from personal experience. And he has forced many people who have been idle for years to actually take a job. This is all to the good, and good for their mental health and general well being. Perhaps she ought to look at the shambles in Mental Health Trusts before 2010.

    • HookesLaw

      Agreed, which is why we need a Tory govt.

    • Mynydd

      Look at the shambles in mental health before 2010, I have and Mrs Thatcher didn’t come out to well.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Beyond parody. This idiot is still blaming Thatcher. But then the pathetic little idiot knows she cannot answer back. Labour Troll ignore.

  • LadyDingDong

    Any suicides due to government attempting to reform a dysfunctional welfare system are to be regretted but as you point out, a large number in our country suffer from mental illness. However, I suggest that reform for the greater good should not be trivialised by you or Millliband, just as we must never ignore the many tens of thousands who died in Iraq because of the lies of Blair, Campbell, Scarlettt, Goldsmith and the rest of Labour’s criminal tendency.

  • Bert3000

    Perhaps Isabel Hardman should think before she writes about suicide. This piece is in very poor taste. You should take it down.

    • Stephen

      Are you willing to explain why you think it is in bad taste and should be removed?

    • Retired Nurse

      Ah! The true face of a government that ‘cares’…perfectly embodied by
      Norman Lamb. This new ‘Care’ Minister signed the NHS Suicide Prevention
      Strategy – (https://www.gov.uk/government/… ) in 2012, whilst he was busy pushing like stink for the legalisation of ‘Assisted Dying’ in the background ( http://www.theguardian.com/soc….
      A
      signature on a consent form is proof of ‘a sincere and firm intent’ eh
      Norman? Have a cup of barbiturates, you two -faced little creep.

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