Mental Health in 21st Century UK
Male suicide in the UK is a cause of concern for us all, Statistics suggest that 5,821 people ended their lives in 2018, with men accounting for three quarters of the countries suicides. It is estimated that 75% of people suffering with a mental health illness do not get access to the treatment they need. More worryingly it is claimed that 200 people per year take their own lives whilst under the NHS Mental Health Crisis Team. With this stark reality, the question has to be asked on how this situation impacts those who have lost loved ones through what appears to be a fault within the NHS Health system. Austerity measures may have a small correlation to the matter, yet just a quick Google search shows that time and time again men are being assessed as “Not at Risk” only to take their own lives, sometimes only a matter of hours after being assessed.
Chris was just 26 years old when he decided to end his life. His Mum describes him as being a happy teenager, creative, highly intelligent and a funny young man. He was thoughtful, positive and popular.
Chris started to suffer with bouts of depression in his early 20s. He made a positive step and sought medical advice from his GP, and he felt this was very helpful. Like many people suffering with their mental health, he was given a prescription for antidepressants.
It has been repeatedly voiced by numerous sufferers of depression that they were often sent home without experiencing any real resolution to the pain and anguish they felt.
Furthermore, like Chris, they have suffered adverse effects to medication. This is a common phenomenon with people who are prescribed the often potent pharmaceuticals used to try and alleviate mental anguish and promote a better sense of wellbeing. Side effects are prolonged and often cause even deeper feelings of depression and hopelessness.
Chris felt they were not helping and decided to stop taking them, after which he seemed to be coping much better. He started a new job which he enjoyed and took action to address his difficulties such as a small amount of debt. Friends and family felt he was in a good place.
“Not at Risk”
Sadly circumstances took a turn for the worst and Chris attempted suicide by overdose, he was assessed by the Crisis team but was sent home with a feeling of embarrassment at his behaviour.
Like so many other cases Chris was left with just a brief follow up, and like so many others, spiralled into further darkness. He threatened to jump from a multi-story car park, and again like so many others, was discharged by his local Crisis Team as “Not being at risk”.
Left in the Dark
More shockingly, while this was Christopher’s second suicide attempt his family were not made aware of it and rightly feel that should they have been. They could have advocated on his behalf, but were denied the opportunity.
Across the country families like Christophers are having to live with not only the loss of a loved one, but also the anger that serious mental health problems were dismissed by what are presumably Health Care Professionals. Many feel that patterns of suicidal behaviour are not being recognised as a serious risk and that complaints thereafter are simply chalked down as “Lessons learnt”.
On the 12th of November Christopher left his family home in the middle of the night and sadly took his own life. He was found lifeless at 5:30am by the police.
Christopher was admitted to a mental health ward twice, just days apart on the week prior to his death. He was deemed not at risk, simply because he made good eye contact and promised not to do it again. His family feel that they should have been made aware of the historical suicide attempts. They are left never knowing if they could have saved Chris by seeking help or even a judgement for his own safety, yet the NHS deem this would have breached his human rights as an adult.
There is a serious failure to recognise here, that should the family have been told of his condition they could probably have done something to prevent the loss of a young man’s life.
If you can help in anyway towards the legal fees of Christophers family and the inquest, please click this Go Fund Me link for more info.