23 August 2013
What: David Barr, from Glenrothes, Fife, was 28 when he took his own life on 23 August 2013, a month after he had learned that the decision to find him fit for work had been confirmed. Despite his history of significant mental distress, David’s parents believe the healthcare professional who assessed him – employed by Atos – failed to contact their son’s GP or his psychiatrist for further information about his mental health. When questioned afterwards by the Procurator Fiscal’s office – which investigates sudden deaths in Scotland – the assessor claimed he couldn’t remember if he had made any phone calls, David’s father would say later. The decision that he was not eligible for ESA was confirmed in a letter to David on 17 July 2013. A month later, he took his own life. He was taking strong medication including anti-psychotics and anti-depressants and was experiencing paranoid delusions. His father is certain that the decision to turn down his son’s ESA claim was the trigger that led to his decision to kill himself, against a background of continuing financial pressures. Several weeks after he died, two DWP officials visited the family and admitted that David should have been receiving ESA instead of jobseeker’s allowance for nearly two years.
Why significant: Another death linked to the flawed WCA process and the failure to seek further medical evidence.