Suicidal patients left in the community
By Liz Lockhart
I cannot overstate how hard it has been to report on the unacceptable number of suicides by mental health patients whilst in the care of residential facilities for the mentally ill.
Each time we report on such a tragedy it stays etched in our memory, Louise Wright, Janey Antoniou and David Hoskins, to name just a few. Whilst these cases are hard to accept we must also consider the unacceptable risks of leaving suicidal people in the community.
This week Marjorie Wallace, the chief executive of the mental health charity SANE spoke out about the annual report by the National Confidential Inquiry into Homicide and Suicide by People with Mental Illness (NCI).
She said ‘Our concern grows by the day that people at risk of suicide are being left with little or no help under the care of home treatment services. At SANE we have calls from suicidal people who may receive brief visits from a variety of team members but feel they have nowhere to turn in crisis.’
‘With the Government’s agenda to reduce psychiatric beds it is almost impossible to find any form of asylum and protection from self-destructive despair. We call on the Government to take note of the disturbing figure of 195 people who at the last count committed suicide while in the community. We question the policy which has swung so far from inpatient to outpatient care for the vast majority of people with mental illness. This can lead to lack of oversight and underestimation of the need for consistent supervised care for those at risk.’
With mental illness affecting one in four people in Britain it is surely time that we make sure that each and every patient has the very best care and attention that they require. Proper mental health treatment and care makes sense for the patient and for the health of our nation. From doctors to politicians and everyone in between, we must ensure that the very best of care is taken of mentally ill people who are vulnerable and not in the best frame of mind to ensure that they receive the treatment and the services which they so clearly need.