LETTER OF THE DAY: Link between benefits sanctions and suicide is well documented

It is very sad, but not surprising, that Portsmouth is above the national average for suicides (Plan aims to reduce suicides as city has above average rate, Feb 26).

Tuesday, 27th February 2018, 11:38 pm
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Extreme mental distress that leads to such desperation that people take their own lives is linked to poverty and austerity.

A 2017 report from the Mental Health Foundation showed that your chances of becoming mentally unwell are much greater if you are poor or low-paid.

The link between benefits sanctions and suicide is well documented.

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Portsmouth is ranked top in terms of deprivation of living environment in the Office for National Statistics 2016 report.

The reasons people take their own lives are complex, but there is a growing body of research that shows the pressures on working class people takes its toll on individuals and their families.

Traumatic experiences, stress and deprivation in childhood are more likely in working class families struggling to survive on benefits, low wages and in inadequate housing.

This will increase vulnerability to mental distress in adulthood, often linked to experiences of poor physical health, unemployment, work-related stress and poverty.

Combine this with the dramatic cuts in welfare services since the 2008 banking crash, and working class people’s inability to afford to pay for private therapy, and the link between mental distress and deprivation is clear.

There is growing movement of professionals and people who use mental health services who challenge the dominant medical model that focuses on an individual’s illness and largely ignores what is going on in society.

Roddy Slorach will be speaking on ‘Politics of the mind - Marxism and mental distress’ at a Portsmouth Socialist Workers Party public meeting at 7.30 pm on Wednesday, March 7 at Southsea Community Centre, Somerstown Central, Rivers Street, PO5 4EY.

Anyone who wants to discuss this important topic is very welcome to come along.

Jon Woods

Francis Avenue, Southsea