Epileptic Man Hanged Himself After His Sickness Benefits Were Stopped

A man with epilepsy hanged himself after his incapacity benefit was stopped, a coroner’s inquest heard.

Trevor Drakard, 50, was found hanged in his Sunderland home just months after being assessed as ‘fit for work’ and ordered to find a job.

He was in the process of appealing against the decision, with assistance from the Citizens Advice Bureau, when he took his own life.

An inquest in Sunderland heard how Mr Drakard, who had suffered with epilepsy from the age of six, was left feeling down and depressed “due to the stress of losing his benefits”.

Coroner’s officer Neville Dixon told the inquest: “In the past few months he had been deemed fit to work and his benefits were stopped.

“He had been feeling very down in recent weeks, due to the stress of losing his benefits.”

Mr Drakard was described as a “lonely man” with few acquaintances who had recently lost two of his closest friends.

The hearing was told how Mr Drakard would meet his parents for a meal three times a week and was last since just days before his tragic death.

His parents explained how they were unable to contact their son to ask him to sign some documents related to his benefit appeal. They subsequently visited Mr Drakard’s home and found their son’s body hanging in his bedroom.

Senior Coroner Derek Winter said Mr Drakard would have been unconscious “in a small number of seconds” and dead soon after. Tests found that he was still taking his epilepsy medication.

The Senior Coroner ruled that Trevor Drakard had taken his own life.

Sunderland MP Julie Elliot said:

“This case is tragic and need not have happened. My thoughts are with Mr Drakards’ family and friends.

“Sadly, the removal of benefits to genuinely sick people is becoming all too common, having a devastating impact on people’s lives and in this case a tragic outcome.

“The system is not fit for purpose – the Government needs to act now to stop anymore tragedies occurring and causing unnecessary hardship to people.”

 

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this story you can contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit their website at http://www.samaritans.org/.