The headline (Oct. 11th) over your leading article concerning mental health reads ‘‘A week for true awareness’’ - but the whole article is exclusively about depression and suicide. If you were ‘‘truly aware’’, you would know that well over half of suicide victims suffer from schizophrenia. Don’t they count? We must clearly differentiate between the several mental illnesses, simply because each illness calls for different treatment.
If you are suffering from an endogenous depression (e.g. bipolar) you often present a medical emergency, in as much that some cases need 24/7 observation. Since the closure of designated mental hospitals we no longer have sufficient psychiatric, in-patient beds to deliver such service. Before 1992 a depressed person could, and very often did, go to the nearest mental hospital where they would be given a bed immediately. Nursing staff were authorised to admit such person, even in the middle of the night.
The changed public attitude to schizophrenia caused the closure of mental institutions in the 1990s. An unintended consequence of that was that if you are depressed, you are simply unable to obtain the protection and care needed to assist you fighting your suicidal thoughts - or just simply having a few days alone, without pressure, in a hospital setting. More psychiatric in-patient beds would also greatly benefit our schizophrenic population.