Dangerous Psychos

28 08 2012

Image from the Straits Times Press


It’s my psychiatry posting and I happened to do a bit of pre-reading last week by pulling out this book. It had a cute title and the language seemed pretty reader friendly. I am generally not impressed by the content of medical or scientific books directed to the lay public, but this one had a lot of important information beyond just the medical. This paragraph really forced me to reconsider stereotypes.

The reality is that it is rare for mentally ill patients to ever be dangerous to others. Yet this group, insignificant as it inevitably is, receives a disproportionate amount of attention in the media, which, as a result of sensationalistic reporting, creates an aura of  ‘dangerousness’ around psychiatric patients, tarring all with the same brush.

The reality is that violence is so ubiquitous in society that the act of incarcerating a few individuals gives little (if any) extra safety or public protection. There are far more dangers in society than the potential risk posed by the mentally ill. Dangerous drivers, for instance, cause far more potential harm, as do industrial companies that flout safety regulations

There’s a lot more to that tiny book (106 pages) and I highly recommend you take a look. It’ll be available in the NUS Library once I return it, in a couple of days.

The other very real problem is that the mentally ill might be dangerous to themselves.  Sept 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, and although I think it’s sadly ironic that it’s commemorated a day before some of the most horrendous suicide attacks in recent history, I think it’s an important message that a) it’s unfortunate that people should feel so crappy that they want to kill themselves and b) this might be largely preventable, if they get help early.  As I mentioned in a post on my old blog, there’s stigma associated with getting psychiatric help, which, in the 21st century, we shouldn’t be having. It’s ok to see a counselor if you think you can’t cope, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that and it doesn’t make you a weak person.

If you ever contemplate suicide, drop the Samaritans Of Singapore (SOS) a call at 1800-221-4444 or an email at pat@samaritans.org.sg. They’ll know how to help.




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