A man reportedly left a “sarcastic” note thanking the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for leaving him unable to afford electricity, shortly before taking his own life from a lethal overdose.
The Derby Telegraph reports that Brian Sycamore was experiencing difficulties with the new benefit, which merges six social security benefits into one single monthly payment.
The 62-year-old is said to have suffered with back pain for a number of years and was plunged into financial distress because of problems claiming Universal Credit.
Mr Sycamore was found dead in his bed on 30 September 2017 by housemate Paul Baker, who also reported seeing a large amount of prescription medication on his bedside table.
An inquest at Derby and Derbyshire Coroner’s Court heard that the medication had been precribed legitimately for Mr Sycamore’s back pain.
And a GP told the inquest that Mr Sycamore had no previous history of mental health problems and had not attempted suicide at any time in the past.
However, his brother Henry Sycamore told assistant coroner Louise Pinder that he believed his brother’s problems with Universal Credit had triggered his suicide.
The assistant coroner said: “Henry has said to us that he believes this was a deliberate act.
“He had been in pain for many years. But he believes the trigger was down to problems he was having with his Universal Credit.”
A note left on Mr Sycamore’s mobile phone asked “can you thank the people who work at the Department for Work and Pensions”, whilst referencing the fact that his pre-paid elecrticity meter had run out.
A toxicology test carried out during a post mortem found lethal doses of four prescription medications in his system.
Coroner Pinder recorded the cause of death as “suicide”, but did not refer to the issues Mr Sycamore was having with Universal Credit in her report.
A DWP spokesperson said: “Suicide is a very complex issue, so it would be wrong to link it solely to someone’s benefit claim.
“We are committed to safeguarding vulnerable claimants and we keep our guidance under constant review to ensure we provide the highest standard of protection.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article the Samaritans can be contacted free on 116 123 for help and support.