ME suicide “triggered by benefits form”

Why I let my husband die | Life and style | The Guardian

This article is an interview with Jill Anderson, whose husband Paul killed himself in 2005 (on his fourth attempt). He had suffered from ME (which they both insisted on calling Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) for many years and it had resulted in terrible pain, as well as forcing him to close his business and declare himself bankrupt. The immediate trigger, she believes, is his application for Disability Living Allowance:

The day Paul died, he and Jill had started, finally, to fill out a detailed, 60-page form that would allow them to claim disability allowance. It was something Paul had been putting off for months. Jill now believes it was the trigger for his suicide – and it was this realisation that made her rush home that hot July day. “The form meant Paul had finally accepted that he was never going to get better,” she says. “He failed on every question. It sounds stupid, but I think we were both stunned [by the realisation].”

When I first read this, I took “failed” to mean he realised he would not have been eligible for the benefit, but a second reading suggests that he was more than eligible and that he realised how much of his abilities he had lost.

It has been observed that the Disability Living Allowance form is a thoroughly depressing and upsetting one to fill in, because it is entirely concerned with what you can’t do, and it makes you confront the extent of your disability. It’s also possible, perhaps, that someone can be highly disabled by a debilitating condition like ME and yet somehow not manage to tick enough boxes to qualify for DLA. Having never filled in the form myself, I don’t know. However, for certain conditions, there is a lot of help available to fill in the form.

Yesterday, I was at the Asperger’s service in my home town, where I’m hoping they will help me find some meaningful employment. The lady I spoke to suggested that the one benefit I might like to apply for is DLA, something which I have had suggested to me by my family in the past (apparently, parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder manage to claim it), and she told me that they had helped people fill it in and nobody they had helped had not won, although some had to go to a tribunal. I can think of one area in which my condition makes living more expensive, but I’ve never thought I needed to claim this benefit or any other — what I’m looking for is the wherewithal to keep myself, but there others with Asperger’s severely enough affected to justify applying for it.

The point being that if your condition is well enough recognised, you can get help filling in the form and don’t have to do it on your own when you’re depressed. Of course, if your condition is ME, you may have extreme difficulty finding people who do believe in it and whose job it is to help you fill in that form, unless you’re at the extreme end (in which case it will fall to your carer). Obviously, Asperger’s is real and can be stressful to live with, but it can’t cause extreme pain and put you in bed for decades. ME can. Surely people with that should have access to similar services that we have?

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