This isn’t my first time contacting you about the mental health services in our country, but sadly today I am not writing on my own behalf.
On Friday, the 15th of January, Stephen Byrne attended Beaumont A&E to seek medical assistance. He was 20, a devoted father and suicidal. A few days prior, he had attempted to hang himself multiple times while in police custody; at that time he was brought to the Mater but was released.
Despite informing staff at Beaumont of his intent to commit suicide, he was discharged. The only help he was offered was that his file would be sent to his clinic in Ballymun.
On Tuesday, the 19th of January, Stephen went missing; his body was discovered two days later, on his daughter’s second birthday. To date, nobody from the Ballymun clinic has made contact with Stephen’s family.
As anyone with mental health difficulties knows, asking for help when you are at your lowest is incredibly difficult. It takes unbelievable strength to fight your own mind and reach out. This is especially true for young men, as historically our country has stigmatised those with mental illnesses as weak or failing in some way.
Men are statistically less likely to seek treatment for mental health issues, but they are four times more likely to die by suicide then women. Yet, when a young man found the courage to walk into an A&E department he was turned away, with devastating consequences.
I know all too well the pain and desolation of reaching out when all you want to do is die, only to be dismissed and invalidated by the very people who are supposed to offer aid. It might sound histrionic to some, but they might as well help you to step onto the ledge.
After my last suicide attempt, as soon as I regained consciousness I was discharged from Beaumont A&E without ever speaking to a doctor, let alone a member of the psychiatric team. I know a young woman who just last week attempted suicide inside the hospital grounds, and was simply patched up and sent on her way.
I know that there are many people with similar accounts, especially those with a history of self-harm or suicide attempts. This is because certain hospitals, as a result of overcrowding and staff shortages, have a policy whereby patients who present more than a handful of times with self-inflicted injuries, including suicide attempts, are no longer referred to the psychiatric team for assessment. We are seen as a waste of resources.
This is not just a local issue, across the nation there are thousands of people waiting for referrals, many of whom will have to travel for hours for an appointment as a result of hospital closures. In some areas the wait for a psychology referral is two years. In 2014 nearly 3,000 children and adolescents were on waiting lists for psychiatric referrals and children are routinely admitted to adult psychiatric units.
As a country we are finally starting to break the draconian cycle of shame and secrecy that surrounds mental illness, but our mental health service remains inadequate, underdeveloped and underfunded.
The Government and politicians are quick to promise change and reforms, but while we wait for them to turn words into actions more and more lives will be lost. Sadly any improvements will be too late for Stephen, his family and his little girl, Ava. Stephen asked for help and he was rejected; someone decided he was not important enough for their time, their care or their compassion. At what point does someone’s life become dispensable? Who are we supposed to turn to if our own healthcare system deems us unworthy?
They tell people suffering from mental health difficulties to ‘speak up’; to talk to a professional; to not suffer in silence. They ask for our trust, and then break it.
Ask yourself, if you were living in hell; if you were in so much pain that you would take your own life to escape it, would you put your survival in the hands of an institution that will likely make your life even more unbearable?
I wrote to you a while back but you never did reply. I know you’re really busy so don’t worry man it’s fine, I’m sure it can’t be easy being Taoiseach of us plebs but at least the Europeans are still ruffling your head.
It’s good to know you’re busy but I’m pretty busy too, I have a little boy now and he doesn’t have a clue, that his future on this island is in jeopardy ’cause you have chosen to deny what’s self-evidently true,
In favour of an empire entirely designed to conspire to constrict us so that we’re intertwined, to a point where if we need to fart we have to sign the forms, and then send them back to Brussels as methane gas reforms.
So please don’t tell Herr Merkel but I farted twice this morning, I didn’t really mean to but I started without warning, but I’d hope that she’d forgive me as I’m fairly sure the reason was the German supermarkets now have broccoli in season.
I know I’m being facetious but it’s not too far removed, from the specious declarations that are easily disproved with a basic understanding of a union as a whole, where a concept of demanding creates a construct of control.
But power is a liquor some people just can’t hold, It devours and embitters the peace within their soul, And while I’m open to correction if there’s something that I missed, On the basis of reflection I think Herr Merkel’s pissed,
Cause she’s drained the bottle dry but she’s still looking for more And she’s feigned she’s gonna try to build a Europe we adore, Where the Germans hold the cash while the rest of us must pay But if Merkel had a moustache, well, you know the old cliché…
I’ve been told I’m Anti-Europe but I don’t think that I am, Sure wasn’t she yer one who ran away and married Uncle Sam? They were living out in Malta – near yer man who can’t be mentioned – In a mansion built by Nato’s taste for military intervention.
I know their basic premise is that war is beneficial, That bombs equate to business and that peace is superficial, But I’ve always had this notion of a world where I’ve envisioned That invading other countries is an act of terrorism,
And that those who give the orders should stand trial out in the Hague, For the disrespect of borders but it seems the rules are vague; The Western world dictate the terms of what they deem the crime, Yet they always seem to summarise that what they do is fine.
You’d probably think such notions are idealist and naïve, And in truth you’re probably right, but I’d like to still believe In a world where international law was made to be upheld, As a rational code of ethics but that myth has been dispelled
By the way that wars are waged on the premise of a lie, While they label us enraged for our failure to comply. But I’m not some left-wing truant who’s just anti-everything, Nor some neo-liberal fascist who’s entirely right-wing
I’m just a normal human being who still cares about this place, And I’ve been called anti-statist but it’s simply not the case, ‘Cause this isn’t left or right, it’s just straight up right & wrong, And while you fight within your fetters to pretend that you’re still strong,
I’ve just always found it better to use both my lungs to breathe, Both my legs to walk and both my eyes to see And the truth of what I’m seeing’s that this country’s on its knees, And rather than the cure you’re still pushing the disease,
But when you’re questioned on these matters you revert to fluency In a language left in tatters by the course of history.
Ach níl morán Gaeilge agam ‘s tá brón orm faoi sin, Ach tá fhios agam céard a tharla daichead bhliain ó shin, Nuair a bhuaigh tú do suíochán mar a fuair d’athair bás, ‘S ní raibh seans ag éine a bhí in aghaidh leatsa sa rás
Mar is tusa mhicín Henry, peileadóir i triocha sé, A bhuaigh Sam le Mhaigh Eo ‘s mar sin chomh-súil le Dé – Sch ba cuma liom faoi sin, an bhfuil fhios agat le bhur dtoil, Cén fath go raibh tú fós sa phost an príomhoide sa scoil, Nuair a bhí tú in nDáil Éireann, thar céad mhíle ó Mhaigh Eo, Le na triocha ‘s a sé bhliain nó mas féidir leat níos mó?
But to be honest with you Enda, I still think that it’s harsh, To hear so many people who show up to every march Declare you the worst Taoiseach that this country’s ever had, It’s as if they can’t remember that the rest were just as bad.
But the problem isn’t you, it isn’t even Burton, It’s a system that’s designed and confined to keep us hurtin’ While the masters of resources dot the i’s and cross the t’s On their psychopathic contracts like this TTIP.
I’m sure there’s gotta be days and nights when you must come to ask, How the hell you came to land with such a massive task – For a teacher by profession who came up the ranks and stuck To a Taoiseach in recession while the country’s rightly –
Up the creek and down the pan, and round the knotted twist, While the people at the bottom simply struggle to exist, But as much as I would like to think that you are well intentioned, I still saw you in New York with yer man who can’t be mentioned,
The way I saw you with Lagarde, and every two-bit thief, Acting the blaggard as if it’s light relief, To pretend that you’re important to those who hold the strings, While you know you’re just a jester in the courtyard of the king.
But the truth is, as I see it, that this island is abundant, I could call you a gobshite but I think that it’s redundant To just label people names for the sake of angry words, While the path remains the same for the masses of the herd.
I’d just rather as an island if we sat down for a chat, To discuss some basic issues and the crux of where we’re at, ‘Cause as far as I can see it, unless we hit reverse The road to where we’re heading isn’t better now it’s worse.
But I still believe in Ireland, though some may find that strange. I believe that as a people we reserve the right to change. I believe that underneath this web of core deceit, There’s a movement of the masses who’ve begun to find their feet
And you and I both know that the masses on the move, Still possess the power to redress and to remove Those who would oppress them from their plinth within the Dáil, Whether Fine Gael or Labour, Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil.
I believe that we’ve been lied to, abandoned and abused, And denied the basic tenets of our sovereign right to choose, By the leaders of a Union who just see us as a toy At the mercy of their making and the whim of their employ.
But I’ve farted so I’ll finish ’cause the post is gonna go, Tabhairt aire do n-ár dtíre ‘s go néirí linn go deo.
“I made a video essay around the idea of people taking videos on their cameraphones at gigs and how there’s a need for more sufficient imagery in modern society. It includes a brief appraisal of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2015) by Ana Lily Amirpour….
This isn’t just about the water,
It’s about the prostitution of this island,
And the clients who have bought it.
It’s about how they bought and sold us,
Like we’re cattle at a mart,
As we swallow what they told us,
And tore ourselves apart.
It’s not meant to be divisive,
This is not just us and them,
Instead we should unite ourselves again to stand as men, women and children, Whose time has come to say,
That the system isn’t working,
There must be another way.Continue reading →