Suicide bids follow tower blaze: ‘We are covered in ashes of dead friends, relatives’

Saturday September 9 2017

Grenfell Tower, at least 20 survivors and witnesses have attempted suicide.

Pedestrians look up towards Grenfell Tower, a residential block of flats in west London on June 14, 2017, as firefighters continue to control a fire that engulfed the building in the early hours of the morning. At least 20 survivors and witnesses have attempted suicide. PHOTO | ADRIAN DENNIS | AFP  

By GERRY LOUGHRAN
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The London tower block fire that killed 80 people and injured a further 70 is continuing to claim victims, a charity has said.

Nearly three months after the blaze swept through the 24-storey Grenfell Tower of public housing on June 14, at least 20 survivors and witnesses have attempted suicide, according to Yvette Greenway, founder of the group Silence of Suicide.

Judy Bolton from Justice4Grenfell said she had heard the same figure from volunteers working with survivors.

TRAUMA
Ms Greenway said many residents were unable to get images of the burning tower out of their minds and some others were turning to alcohol and drugs.

Ms Bolton said factors turning people to suicide included depression, guilt that they survived and the feeling they could not cope with the loss of loved ones.

She said: “People saw their neighbours falling from a burning building. They saw children being dropped from the building.

"There are still ashes blowing over us when the train goes past. We’re being covered in the ash of our dead friends and relatives.”

Mental health services are being urged to seek out those in despair rather than wait for them to approach, she said.

Some council workers were putting leaflets under doors and not talking to survivors.

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INMATES

Guard Callum Tulley, 21, was so shocked by some of the treatment that his colleagues meted out to inmates at an immigration removal centre at Heathrow Airport — choking, mocking and abusing them — that he wore a secret camera and exposed the scandal for the BBC.

Undercover footage on the Panorama programme showed a man trying to commit suicide by swallowing a mobile phone battery.

A custody officer responded, “If he wants to suck on a battery, he can suck on a battery. If he wants to use it as his dummy, I’m happy with that.”

HUNGER STRIKE
The most distressing thing Tully saw was a man being restrained: “The guard basically stuck both of his fingers into his neck and he was pushing so hard that I could hear the detainee trying to gasp for breath,” he said.

When a hunger striker refused food, a guard said, “Oh, f--- him, He’s a prick. Cross him off.”

Tulley’s film revealed drugs, particularly the powerful Spice, are rife in the centre, Brook House, where convicted criminals awaiting deportation after completing their sentences are mixed with asylum seekers.

DISCIPLINED
A Pakistani doctor, who was held at Brook House after his student visa ran out, said he thought someone was going to kill him on his first night.

“You can be put with any criminal in the same room. Guys were fighting each other, screaming, shouting, swearing.”

The private security firm G4S has been paid more than £100 million by the Home Office to run Brook House since it opened in 2009.

In a statement after the release of Tulley’s footage, the company said nine staff had been suspended.

G4S has been embroiled in a series of scandals over its handling of inmates in prisons and detention centres and some campaigners have called for Brook House to be shut down.
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CLIMATE CHANGE

It is well known that one of Britain’s favourite meals is fish and chips.

And if you ask what sort of fish, the answer is mainly cod and haddock or perhaps flatfish such as sole or plaice.

Well, that may all be changing soon. Scientists say as a result of climate change, the waters around this island are warming and the old favourites are seeking colder conditions around the North Pole.

Taking their place are new varieties, such as sardines and cuttlefish, red mullet and john dory.

DIET

It remains to be seen how Brits will take to a new fishy diet.

“Cuttlefish and chips, please,” does not have the same ring as “Cod and chips”, somehow.

Food apart, researchers say, the arrival of some warm-water species could be detrimental in some cases and beneficial in others.

For instance, slipper limpets could destroy mussel and oyster beds, but American razor clams and Pacific oysters could prove to be good business for British fishermen.

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A keen but not very bright fisherman decided to try ice fishing for the first time.

He cut a hole in the ice, but a voice said: “There are no fish there.”

He moved a few feet away and cut another hole in the ice and the voice said, “There are no fish there.”

“Is that you, Lord?” the fisherman asked.

“No, the voice replied, “this is the Manager of the Ice Skating Arena.”
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RAINFALL

Manchester is notorious for the amount of rain it receives.

A foreign visitor noticed that it rained on Monday, when he arrived, then again on Tuesday and yet again on Wednesday.

He asked the young daughter of the hotel-keeper, “Does it ever stop raining in Manchester?”

She replied, “I don’t know, I’m only thirteen.”