I have a friend. A friend with bipolar disorder who recently attempted suicide. I was surprised because he is so healthy. I felt sad that, although he is very popular and had tons of friends, felt so alone he attempted to end his life.
But it was in hearing about his treatment that really disturbed me. Right here in Asheville, NC.
He went to the ER to get help. He knew he needed help. He sat on a gurney in the Psych holding section of the ER for three days. I believe he said he never even saw an MD then was sent home. This is not a man who thought about suicide and this is NOT a man who cries out for “attention” as if that being assumed or not assumed has any relevance on whether or not treatment is needed.
This is a man. a strong man. a caring man. a dedicated to mental health treatment man. And he got no help. After a suicide attempt and three days in the ER, he was sent home.
I know we are short of hospital beds not only in this country but also in the UK and elsewhere. I was reading just today that in the UK they have closed over 2000 beds since 2011. There are 18,000 psych beds for the entire country. I wonder on a percentage basis if that is more or less than here.
Here’s the thing about just counting beds tho. If we close 1000 state hospital beds, I don’t see that as a loss. They are warehousing beds. They are not “help people” beds. Now, if the choice is warehousing or death, I suppose warehousing is better but truthfully, for me, if I were put into a state hospital ever again, (last time was the 80’s in MA and I was raped!) I would choose to never tell anyone ever again if I felt suicidal.
Suicide is my default. It’s where I naturally go when I am depressed. Since it is my default, I use that knowledge in a weird way to talk myself out of it. I tell myself I am ok, it’s just where I go. I don’t need to do it. It’s ok to think it. etc.
I read an article on the bbc today that 7 people recently killed themselves when there was no bed for them inpt. Another killed his mother.
I don’t know how to end this. I don’t know where it all does end.
What is clear, is we need more mental health access in this country if we do indeed care about the mental health in this country. The way it looks to me is we are only pretending to care since we are “concerned” about school shootings and always find a way to “blame the mentally ill” but at the same time are removing money from the treatment. I read a lot of articles today. Most depressing. But I can’t let myself go there – I’ll get suicidal.