18 November 2018
What: Roy Curtis (previously Ayman Habayeb) takes his own life, six days after being asked to attend a face-to-face WCA. DWP had been repeatedly warned that its efforts to force him into work were making him suicidal, and had years of evidence of the impact of the WCA process on his mental health. In August, he had been told his ESA was being removed because he had failed to turn up to a WCA. He drew up a lengthy suicide note in which he said he would end his own life on 19 September because DWP had decided to terminate his benefits, which meant he was “no longer able to pay rent or afford to eat”. Police were alerted by an online friend and he was admitted as a voluntary inpatient to a mental health unit. A support worker wrote to DWP asking for the ESA decision to be reviewed, including a letter from a consultant psychiatrist explaining that the thought of work made him feel suicidal. His benefits were reinstated and backdated the following day, 5 October. But just a few days later, having now returned home, he received another DWP letter, telling him he had been placed back in the ESA work-related activity group and would need to attend regular appointments. A month later, on 12 November, he was sent a letter by DWP telling him he needed to attend another WCA. It is believed he took his own life six days later.
Why significant: The safeguarding failures were strikingly similar to those that led to the death of Errol Graham several months earlier [see 20 June 2018], showing the importance of not looking at deaths in isolation, in order to see patterns and recurring issues.