Saturday 11 March 2017

The "why haven't you killed yourself yet?" scandal

People tend to react with disbelief when I try to explain to them how badly disabled people are treated in Britain.

They tend to disbelieve me when I tell them that the UK government has been severely critisised by the United Nations for their "systematic violations" of disabled people's rights.

They tend to disbelieve me when I tell them that the dehumanising Work Capacity Assessment regime for disabled people has been ruled unlawful in the courts for the way it discriminates against people with mental health conditions, and that it costs way more in corporate outsourcing fees to administer than it will ever save in reduced benefits payments.

They tend to disbelieve me when I tell them that disabled people are by far the most likely people to suffer the punitive "Bedroom Tax" regime, and that people with mental illnesses and learning difficulties are disproportionately affected by the draconian Tory sanctions regime (another brutal Tory welfare policy that costs way more to administer than it will ever save in reduced benefits payments).

In March 2017 another scandal erupted about the callous way in which disabled people are treated in Britain. It's so extreme that again, people really struggle to believe that it's actually happening in a supposedly decent and humane society like Britain.

It turns out that the private profit-making companies that are carrying out the dehumanising and discriminatory Work Capacity Assessment and other disability assessments like PIP on behalf of the Tory government have been asking disabled people why they haven't committed suicide yet.
After Alice Kirby Tweeted about this outrageous line of questioning dozens of other disabled people have come forward to testify about how they had been asked similar "why haven't you killed yourself yet?" type questions during the various dehumanising assessment processes the Tory government put them through.

One of the corporate outsourcing giants conducting disability assessments on behalf of the Tory government (Maximus) has openly admitted that asking disabled people questions like "what stops you from acting on the [suicidal] thoughts that you have?" and "Can you think of any reason you're not doing that [committing suicide]?" is "in line with their policies and guidelines".

If you can't see why this is such a shocking and dangerous line of questioning for people with disabilities, you might as well stop reading now and continue living in your bubble of denial about the absolutely disgusting ways in which the Tory government and their corporate outsourcing chums have been treating sick and disabled people.

It's so obviously sick and dangerous to ask people with severe physical and mental illnesses "Why haven't you killed yourself yet?" that I feel like I'm being ridiculously patronising even explaining it, but it needs to be said.

Asking people with severe mental illnesses like depression and Post Traumatic Stress why they haven't killed themselves yet is obviously going to increase the risk of suicide, but it's also likely to increase the risk of suicide amongst people with all manner of other disabilities who may already feel like their condition is a burden on their families, or on wider society. 

In fact the whole process of treating disabled people like they are scroungers on the make who deserve to be put through one dehumanising assessment regime after another is bad enough, but actually asking people why they've not killed themselves yet during these appalling processes is so obscene it's actually beyond my ability as a writer to express how disgusted I am by it.

Shockingly the mainstream media have totally neglected this dreadful scandal. During my research for this article the only coverage whatever seems to be from fellow independent media sources (Black Triangle, Disability News Service, Vox Political, The Canary) and from personal social media accounts. At the time of writing this scandal has been covered in alternative media sources for over a week, yet nobody from the mainstream press seems even remotely bothered about holding the government to account over it.
It's astounding that nobody from the mainstream press has bothered to try to give this appalling story the publicity it deserves. 

Perhaps even worse than the fact these "why haven't you killed yourself yet?" questions are being asked* is the way that the mainstream press have abjectly failed in their duty to hold the Tories to account over this scandal.

Of course ordinary people are going to continue having doubts that disabled people are being systematically abused by the Tory government and their profiteering outsourcing chums if the mainstream press refuse to involve themselves in the subject whatever, leaving the job of holding the government to account to small independent bloggers and websites like me and the others listed in this article.

What you can do

  • Write to mainstream media organisations asking why they have done nothing to expose such scandalous mistreatment of disabled people, and whether they have any intention of actually covering the story at all.
  • Write to your MP and ask them to clearly explain their position on whether disabled people should be asked why they haven't killed themselves during the already extremely stressful assessment regimes they're put through. If they try to justify the suicide questions or provide evasive or misleading answers, consider sharing their letters with me, or the other independent media organisations named above so they can be publicly shamed.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


* = After witnessing almost seven years of Tory rule, those of us who actually pay attention to what they're up to expect nothing less than extreme callousness towards disabled people from the Tories and their profiteering corporate outsourcing minions

No comments: