A GRIEVING mum has told how her daughter took her own life when her benefits were stopped before the family was hit by another tragedy.
Jodey Whiting, who was disabled, died in February 2017 shortly after her benefits were halted – leaving behind nine children.
The 42-year-old's mum Joy Dove has said her grandson struggled to cope and tragically also took his own life after his mum killed herself.
Joy said: “Cory struggled after her death. I tried to look out for him, as she had asked, but I could see, in his eyes, that he was struggling with his grief and that he needed his mum.
“He died from a drug overdose. He went to a party one night, we had no idea where or who with, and he was found dead in a stranger’s flat.
“It broke my heart, but it comforts me that they are together now.”
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Jodey, from Stockton, Teeside had nine children, including two sets of twins but after the second set, her health deteriorated.
Her mother explained that her daughter suffered from a curvature of the spine for several years and was forced to have surgery.
This included spine disc removal and separate medication for bipolar disorder.
After a while, the struggling mum's marriage broke down and she moved out to live on her own, reliant on benefits.
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Joy said: "We were all worried about Jodey. She could hardly move. I knew she was depressed but she always insisted she would never harm herself.
"One day, I managed to get her out shopping, and she was really struggling, and said to me: ‘If anything happens to me, don’t go screaming.’
“It struck me as such a chilling thing to say.
“She didn’t come to spend Christmas with us which worried me. It wasn’t like her. But I didn’t for a minute think that was her last Christmas.”
But in 2017, Jodey received a letter that said she would no longer receive her benefits after she failed to attend a fitness assessment.
Joy added: "We were shocked. There was no way Jodey could work. She was just too ill. She was going to lose her home; everything.
"I gave her money, but we knew it was not a long-term arrangement, I couldn't afford that."
Tragically, Jodey was found dead by Joy after a fatal overdose – just three days after she received her last Employment Support Allowance paycheck.
You’re Not Alone
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
- Movember, www.uk.movember.com
- Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, 03444 775 774 Monday-Friday 9.30am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-8pm
Joy's family rejected the suicide findings in her daughter's inquest in 2017 and began a campaign called "Justice for Jodey".
She said: “My campaign for justice has seen me take on the government, I’ve stood on platforms alongside celebrities and politicians.
"I am just an ordinary mum, yet I would go to the ends of the earth to get justice for my daughter.
“I feel that the decision to stop Jodey’s benefits cost two lives; hers and her son’s, as he killed himself two years after she died. It has ripped the heart from my family.
"I don’t want anyone else to suffer as we have.”
According to Joy, Jodey had made clear to the DWP that she had “suicidal thoughts a lot of the time and could not cope with work or looking for work”.
Joy's continuous campaigning has paid off and the Attorney General granted the right to apply for a new inquest.
She said: “If I can change the way people are treated then Jodey will not have died in vain.
"I now feel that this was her destiny; to change the lives of millions of others.
Joy says she still buys her daughter a Christmas card and present each year and decorates her grave with fairy lights and presents.
The mum-of-three said: "Jodey absolutely loved Christmas and each year without her is very hard.
"It gets no easier and I will visit her on Christmas morning, and have a chat about all the Christmas telly and what veg I’m cooking.
"I keep her up to date, and I hope she can hear me.”
A report by an Independent Case Examiner concluded that the DWP had made multiple significant errors in how it treated Jodey.
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Joy has since received an official apology and compensation but her campaign for justice goes on.
Joy has written a book to honour her daughter's memory called, ‘A Mother’s Job’ is out now and available on Amazon.
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans for free on 116123.
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