Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Mental Health Provision - An Unnecessary Death
"Did my sick husband have to die in jail?"
This was the headline above an article in Sunday's Observer which described the tragic suicide of Alan Mullin in prison. Alan was mentally ill and should have been in hospital but was in prison where he committed suicide some days after being taken off suicide watch.
This post gives a shortened version of the background to his death which stands as a symbol of the shabby treatment of the mentally ill.
In the early 2000s Alan was diagnosed as bipolar but, subsequently, he stopped his medication and his condition worsened. Whilst in his local mental health hospital (early 2005) he tried to cut his throat and later, in desperation, his wife asked that he be sectioned only to be told that he was still being assessed.
In February, once back home, he suffered from delusions again, cut himself again, locked the backdoor to prevent a gunman entering the house and shooting him in the back of the head and sat on the kitchen floor reciting verses from the Bible. Despite this his wife managed to get him into a bath although, to pacify him, she agreed to his request to drink his blood.
In case he could overhear she didn't phone the police but went to the nearest police station and asked for help to get him into hospital. Everything started to go wrong now. The police misunderstood her request and turned up with 15 police, 5 in riot gear, a negotiator and police dogs. What should have ended quietly ended only after a 5 hour siege.
Of course , he didn't end up in hospital but in prison having been remanded in custody for 30 days. After his week's suicide watch he returned to a normal cell but he continued talking about killing himself.
On March 9 he hanged himself whilst alone in his cell.
A tragic and unnecessary death.
Alan's death would be tragic enough were he the only mentally ill patient to die in prison but sadly he is only one of many.
Why, why do we keep sending the mentally ill to prison?
Are there insufficient resources within the NHS?
Why are there insufficient resources?
Is mental health not "sexy" enough; are there not enough votes in it?
Does no-one in power care?
Well you bloody well should care!