7 November 2014
What: Sophie takes her own life several hours after telling a jobcentre work coach that she had been “busy trying to kill myself”. The work coach failed to contact the emergency services after discussing her written comment with a manager. Sophie, who had a history of mental distress, had previously been sanctioned by the jobcentre for turning up late and missing appointments, and lived with the constant fear of being sanctioned, and the understanding that DWP did not believe her when she said she had depression.
Why significant: Sophie was claiming jobseeker’s allowance rather than ESA but her brother later spoke of how it showed that DWP’s sanctions regime was “horrific” and was based on “threats and intimidation”. He is certain that racism lay at the heart of the way his sister was treated by DWP, even if it was “indirect” and not immediately obvious. He said the harshness of austerity and DWP’s welfare reforms had a disproportionate impact on people of colour. A prevention of future deaths report will be written about Sophie’s death [see 9 July 2020.]