Single father who left job to take care of three children cried before killing himself as he couldn't make the rent
A single father took his own life as he drowning in debt.
34-year-old Phillip Herron was trying to make ends meet to feed and clothe his three kids. On top of it, he was struggling to repay debts totaling £20,000 ($25,000) and faced eviction to due non-payment of rent. His debts were mostly from payday loans which are notorious for charging up to 1,000 percent interest, The Sun reported.
While he did apply for help from the government, the embattled father only drowned further in debt as he had to wait a month for Universal Credit.
After a point, Phillip couldn't take it anymore. He had just £4.61 ($5.76) left in his bank account when he took his life.
On March 18, he shared a picture of himself online sitting in a car and crying. A few minutes after posting the photo, he 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 criticized the system and said it was "dangerous" to make people wait so long to receive their payments.
"There’s no reason it should take so long," she added. "Phillip already had problems but I think this was the final straw.”
While Universal Credit is currently being rolled out with a single monthly payment system, there are some huge problems with the new scheme.
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.
At first, Sheena couldn't understand why her son ended his life. However, she later went through his papers and realized he was massively in debt—close to £20,000 ($25,000) to the banks, utility companies, as well as payday lenders.
What's more? Bernicia Homes, his housing association, had sent him an eviction letter due to falling back on rent.
Sheena somehow managed to unlock her son's phone and scoured through his emails, documents, and listened to months of phonecalls he had recorded.
The devastated mother couldn't believe how her usually soft-spoken son was screaming and shouting at his kids, and then crying in some of the tapes.
“I wish he’d told us how he was feeling but we never knew," Sheena said. “Listening to those last few months of calls I started asking myself, ‘Who is this person?’ He’d changed so much so very quickly."
Now, Sheena is hoping the evidence she uncovered will be used in an upcoming inquest into Phillip's death at Sacriston, Co Durham.
The heartbroken mother now wants to help others who may be contemplating suicide.
“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.”
"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 spokesperson for Bernicia Homes said when their tenants face such difficulties “our approach is to seek to work with them to help overcome these."
“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," they said. “Help and support is available at every stage. We extend our deepest sympathies to Herron’s family.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to pay for his funeral and related expenses.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)