Trigger Warning: Self-harm, suicide. On March 18, he took to social media to share a photo of him weeping. A few moments after he posted the heartbreaking photo, it was reported that he had killed himself. It's such a tragedy!
A single father made the decision to end his own life because he was drowning in debt. 34-year-old Phillip Herron was trying his best to make ends meet. He had to take care of three children, which meant he had to feed and clothe them. Apart from these expenses, he was struggling to repay debts totaling £20,000 ($25,000) and was faced with an eviction notice because he just could not afford the monthly rent. According to The Sun, his debts were mostly from payday loans which are infamous for charging up to 1,000 percent interest.
He did apply for help from the government, but he had to wait a month for Universal Credit, which only drove him further down in debt. It came to a point when Phillip just couldn't take it anymore. He had just £4.61 ($5.76) left in his bank account when he made the devastating decision to end his own life. On March 18, he took to social media to share a photo of him weeping. A few moments after he posted the heartbreaking photo, it was reported that he had killed himself.
“In his suicide note, he said his family would be better off if he wasn’t there anymore," his mother Sheena Derbyshire told Mirror. “He was a single dad. He was responsible. He always had money before and the kids had the best of everything," she explained. "But Phillip had quit his job as a factory worker recently to look after his young kids and he got into debt, which must have been difficult for him. To suddenly have no money for them must have been very hard. He was waiting for Universal Credit and had just £4.61 when he died.”
Sheena strenuously criticized the system and said that it was "dangerous" to make people wait for so long to receive payments. "There’s no reason it should take so long," she added. "Phillip already had problems but I think this was the final straw.” Even though Universal Credit is currently working with a single-month payment system, there seem to be huge issues with the new scheme.
1000 fucking percent?! It’s only those struggling who take out these loans, making money off people’s desperation. It’s sickening. And then when you need it you can’t even get help from your own govt. failing it’s people once again, hoping they can kill a few more Labour voters.— Becca Miller (@SparklyB) July 20, 2019
According to the report, it takes at least five weeks to receive the first payment, and it could lead some families to lose over thousands of pounds a year. As a mother, Sheena failed to understand what drove her son to take such an unimaginable decision. He hadn't let anyone know of the battles he was fighting. It was only when she went through his stuff later that she got to know of the debt and the eviction notice from Bernicia Homes, his housing association.
I’ve seen first hand how someone with quite severe mental and physical health problems has been treated by the DWP and it’s definitely a money grab first, and f**k the person is just a consequence of the process. It’s shocking and heartbreaking to see it in action.— Grumpy guts (@Grumpyguts3) July 20, 2019
Sheena also managed to unlock her late son's phone and the heartbroken mother foraged through his e-mails and documents. She even listened to months of calls that Phillip had recorded, just because she wanted to know what went wrong where. “I was trying to knit his life together,” she said. “You could hear him changing so much over those final months. He used to be very quietly spoken but in his recent calls and messages he was often screaming."
I’m sick to my stomach and filled with rage by this avoidable tragedy! No excuses can cover the ripples, the waves, the tsunami of destruction generated by this inhumanity!— wheesht min! (@sevemac67) July 20, 2019
“He loved his kids but he started shouting at them. And you can hear him sobbing in calls. I heard him talking about suicide to other people. I wish he’d told us how he was feeling but we never knew. Listening to those last few months of calls I started asking myself, ‘Who is this person?’ He’d changed so much so very quickly. If we didn’t have his phone and his computer we wouldn’t have known what had been going on for him. It was like walking backwards through his life. It’s the most heart-wrenching thing I’ve ever done," she added.
What a heartless government we have. What a tragedy that he felt he had no options. Thoughts to his family x— Jacko (@Junna360) July 20, 2019
Sheena now hopes that the evidence she's uncovered can be used in an upcoming probe into her son's death. She also wants to help other people who may be contemplating suicide. “You don’t just go out one day and take your own life. There’s a build-up. Please talk to someone," Sheena added. "Don’t let another family go through this. If you can’t talk to family or friends, there are people like Samaritans.”
This has got to be stopped - straight away. Devastating for his family and desperately sad. Poor man should have been supported not punished. It makes me livid!— Gill on a mission (@Gill33646897) July 21, 2019
"Our thoughts are with Herron’s family," a spokesperson for the Department of Works and Pensions said. “Suicide is a very complex issue, so it would be wrong to link it solely to someone’s benefit claim. We are committed to safeguarding vulnerable claimants and keep guidance under constant review to provide the highest standard of protection.” A Bernicia spokesperson said when tenants face difficulties “our approach is to seek to work with them to help overcome these."
What an utter sin.— Gary Gillan (@GillanGary) July 20, 2019
Yet another young life lost to tory conscious cruelty & a system that at best is a failure before it's even fully rolled out & at worst was set up to punish the poor even more.
It's way beyond time Labour governed to protect the vulnerable & every citizen to
"A small number of cases could ultimately end in residents losing their home but this is a long process and we see this as a last resort. Help and support are available at every stage. We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Herron’s family.” When someone is faced with so much debt, what else do they do? They have no other option or help that can assure them that things get better, which is then they're left with no other choice but suicide. If you'd like to donate for his funeral, here's the GoFundMe link.
My son has been waiting longer than that! I hate to think what state he'd be in if I had not been able to help him.— Jean Smith (@cjeanbroxmouth) July 21, 2019