I read this on the BBC News website last night and it upset me to the extent that I could not compose myself enough to be able to ‘write’ a blog. The upset remains but some of it has given way to anger which has enabled me – motivated me – to blog:
I look at Sally Brampton’s face and I want to thrust my hands through the laptop screen, to hold her, to support her, to comfort her, to pull her back from the beach from where she walked into the sea to her death.
An inquest into her death has heard how, in the depths of despair, suffering the dizzying turmoil of depression, she walked into the sea near her home – near Bexhill – and drowned. The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide. He referred to a ‘missed opportunity’ to help her – click on the link above and make up your own minds but I wouldn’t call it a ‘missed opportunity’ – no, to be more precise, I’d call it an unforgivable, utter F**** Up!!
The coroner went on to say, “We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive”.
The first sentence, that “We don’t kill ourselves”, is correct. Sometimes, the second sentence is also correct but, in this case, it is not wholly correct. I always say that as clinical depression is an illness (and, often, what doesn’t appear to be clinical depression, what appears to be depression as a result of an external ‘stimulus’, is often clinical, ‘sparked’ by the external ‘stimulus’), as clinical depression is an illness, the ‘suicide’ is a symptom of the illness, death as a consequence of depression, no different from death as a result of any other terminal illness, e.g. terminal cancer.
Sally Brampton’s death was probably not the result of a ‘long, hard struggle to stay alive’, but, in my humble experience (as one who knows about clinic depression!!), it was probably the result of the negligence of those who should have helped and treated her.
The coroner stated:
“…we don’t know that those missed opportunities would have changed Sally’s outcome and that is an important factor”
– that is true, we don’t know, but just as not administering chemotherapy to a cancer patient who has a ‘mixed’ prognosis will substantially decrease his/her chances of survival, so, too, does not treating a patient with severe – or any degree of – depression decrease his/her chances of surviving the illness that is depression.
A letter, dated 19 March 2016 (Sally died on 10 May 2016) from Sally Brampton’s psychiatrist in which he/she – the psychiatrist – concluded that she, Sally, was “in crisis” and was having “strong suicidal thoughts”, that she was having feelings of “hopelessness and helplessness” and that she spent most of the last week of her life in bed and hardly left the house (that touches a nerve when I read it!!) was, to all intents and purposes, ignored.
– a “missed opportunity”?? Far, FAR worse than that, Mr. Healy-Pratt (the coroner)!! As I said above, it’s an absolute F*** Up!!
I sincerely hope that the UK Government’s stated determination to address the scourge of mental illness is genuine and that the relevant Departments, Organisations and Authority leaders do not just pay lip service to what is, still, so misunderstood, to what causes hundreds of thousands of people in Britain, tens of millions – maybe hundreds of millions – of people, families and loved ones around the world horrendous, debilitating suffering (and if that doesn’t bother Governments, maybe the financial cost of depression will spur them into action??)