Teenager took his own life after Jobcentre staff threatened to axe his benefits


A Teesside teenager took his own life after Jobcentre staff threatened to stop his Jobseeker’s Allowance benefit, an inquest into his death has heard.

David Brown, 18, an avid Middlesbrough fan, took his life the day he was due to sign-on because of being put under “immense pressure” to find work, the Gazette Live reports.

Speaking to his mother shortly before his tragic death, David said he wasn’t surprised that benefit claimants were committing suicide, due to “the way the Jobcentre treat people”.

He had also claimed that a “woman at the dole” had been “rude and belittled him”.

Documents recently released by the Department for Work and Pensions, following Freedom of Information requests and pressure from campaigners, revealed there have been at least 49 peer reviews into the suicide of benefit claimants.

David’s body was found by his brother Adam, who had looked through the letterbox at his home after being unable to get inside.

His family told the inquest that David had been “actively” looking for work. But David was allegedly told by Jobcentre staff that his benefits would be sanctioned if he didn’t do more to find employment, even though he had previously found a job only to be “scammed” out of his wages.

David had been searching for an apprenticeship after completing a welding course. “He absolutely loved it and he was really good at it,” his brother Adam said.

“He didn’t want to be a burden”, his sister Grace told the hearing. “He tried hard to look for work.”

Adam’s sister Jenna said: “He was an adventurous teenager who will be remembered for his humour, kindness and courage.

“He was full of energy and had a zest for life”.

She added: “He still had so much to offer as a kind young man and we are all proud to call him a son, brother, grandson and friend.

“He made the world warmer and he will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.”

Fans at his beloved club Middlesbrough, where he had been a season ticket holder since the age of 11, held a minutes applause to honour his memory on 3 October.

Acting Senior Coroner Clare Bailey ruled David had taken his own life.

The case was raised in Parliament on Wednesday by Labour & Co-operative MP Anna Turnley, where Tory minister David Lidington promised to ask the DWP to “have a look at the particular case she has described”.

But the DWP has since claimed that David was never threatened with a sanction and they weren’t aware of any issues regarding his mental health.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Suicide is a very complex issue and there is no evidence of a link between Mr Brown’s suicide and his interaction with JobCentre Plus.

“Our thoughts are with Mr Brown’s family at this difficult time.”


This article was last updated at 02:10am UTC on 8 December 2016.


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