'Twenty suicide attempts' since Grenfell Tower fire

Volunteers say council is not doing enough to help traumatised survivors

Grenfell Tower tributes
(Image credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

There have been at least 20 suicide attempts by people affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, volunteers claim – and accuse Kensington and Chelsea council of failing to provide adequate support to survivors.

The assertion that survivors, witnesses and relatives of those who died in the blaze on 14 June have attempted to take their own lives has not been possible to verify independently, says the BBC.

The figure comes from Silence of Suicide (SOS), a charity founded by Michael Mansfield QC and his partner Yvette Greenway, and is supported by the Justice4Grenfell group. They base the claim on conversations with residents.

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Greenway said many of those affected were unable to get images of the burning tower "out of their minds". She added: "There is a lot of alcohol and drug dependency. People are feeling isolated."

Justice4Grenfell's Judy Bolton, a nurse for 20 years, told the BBC that depression, survivor guilt and the loss of loved ones had driven people to attempt to kill themselves. She said: "People saw their neighbours falling from a burning building.

"They saw children being dropped from the building. There are still ashes still blowing over us when the train goes past. We're being covered in the ash of our dead friends and relatives."

Council response criticised

Kensington and Chelsea council said it was "committed to supporting those affected by this tragedy". It claimed that more than 800 people had been seen by a local response team and that 700 were spoken to by NHS workers at the Notting Hill Carnival.

According to council figures, 330 people have so far been screened for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with 66% referred for treatment afterwards.

But SOS and Justice4Grenfell insist the council response has not been adequate. Greenway said there was "little confidence" in local mental health services. She added: "We've been told workers are going around putting leaflets under hotel doors and not actually speaking to people."

Bolton agreed, saying: "There just isn't the proper psychiatric help that people need. They need trauma and bereavement counselling urgently." Rather than wait for people to seek help, she added, the council should "go to them".

Woman charged with fraud

Meanwhile, a 46-year-old woman has been charged with six counts of fraud relating to the fire. Joyce Msokeri, of Sutton, South London, allegedly made fraudulent claims for compensation for support she said she had offered to Grenfell survivors.

Msokeri appears before Westminster Magistrates' Court today.

A 52-year-old man, Anh Nhu Nguyen, was charged with five counts of the same offence in June, says The Independent. He pretended to be a victim of the fire, claiming he had lost family members, and was put up at a Holiday Inn with Grenfell survivors.

Grenfell Tower: Police consider corporate manslaughter charges

28 July

Scotland Yard are investigating Kensington council and its tenant management organisation for corporate manslaughter over the Grenfell Tower fire that killed at least 80 people.

In a letter circulated to survivors, police say they have "reasonable grounds" to suspect the organisations may have been involved in corporate manslaughter.

Both groups will be questioned under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, The Independent reports.

While police cannot make arrests for corporate manslaughter, they could charge individuals for gross negligence manslaughter if a death is found to have been caused by a person's act or omission, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The June inferno spread so rapidly that experts are still struggling to identify victims, The Guardian reports.

Separately, at least 60 tower blocks in London have failed new fire safety tests for the same type of cladding and foam insulation used to refurbish Grenfell Tower, the BBC reports.

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