UK

Benefits Dispute Linked To Scottish Man Iain Hodge's Suicide, Says Father

14/05/2013 16:14 BST | Updated 14/05/2013 16:22 BST
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People march the streets of Edinburgh in a protest over cuts to housing benefits for those with a spare bedroom.

The father of a 30-year-old man who took his own life has said his ill son's battle to get benefits may have led to his death.

Iain Hodge, who had one son, had been declared unfit to work as he suffered a life-threatening illness, but despite this had received no money for 10 weeks, reported the East Kilbridge News.

His father Willie Hodge said he and his fiancee had just taken out a mortgage on a new flat but "his illness was getting him down and he was involved in an on-going battle with the Benefits Agency.

"He had not received any cash from them for 10 weeks, despite being signed off as unfit to work by the doctor," he added.

“Although he wasn’t a lad who cared about money, he worried about being dependent on others. He had a little savings but he and Vicki had just moved into their flat and he hoped to spend the money he had on making it right for them.”

He last spoke to Iain, who was diagnosed with Hughes syndrome after developing blood clots in his lungs in 2009, on Friday, just a few hours before the police called to say he had taken his own life.

The warfarin he took for his condition meant he couldn't do the landscape gardening he had enjoyed before, and was looking for a new job. His father said he wasn't the type of boy to take his own life.

He told the local paper: “Iain was a Nirvana fan and when Kurt Cobain took his own life we discussed it and agreed we couldn’t understand how someone, especially someone with a child, could do that. Everything must suddenly have just got on top of him"

Over the weekend, the son of a Midlands woman said she killed herself because she was struggling to afford the government's 'bedroom tax.'

Stephanie Bottrill left a note in which she blamed the government for her death.

Just days before she died, the 53-year-old, from in Solihull in the West Midlands, told neighbours she simply could not afford to live any more.

Her family told the Sunday People she was tortured about how she would afford the £20 extra a week for the two under-occupied bedrooms in her home - money she owed because of the government's spare room subsidy policy, the so-called "bedroom tax".

Ms Bottrill died in the early hours of 4 May after she was struck by a lorry on the M6 motorway.

Conservative minister Baroness Warsi commenting on the case said: "I think those are very tragic circumstances and certainly I think to try to link them in any way to a general discussion from politicians would be wrong."

Cuts were also blamed for a death in Yorkshire.

In April a coroner ruled a man took his own life after worrying about how he would survive after his benefits were stopped.

Nicholas Barker, who was already disabled, died from his head injuries, according to coroner Michael Oakley who added: “The main factor worrying him was that his benefits had been stopped and had he attended the appeal he may have been successful, but it did not get that far,” he said. “It is evident that the matter was concerning him greatly.”

According to Samaritans, "although a catalyst may appear to be obvious, suicide is seldom the result of a single factor or event and is likely to have several inter-related causes".

If you are affected by the issues in this story you can contact the Samaritans by phone on 08457 90 90 90, 24 hours a day, or log onto www.samaritans.org.