”No history of self harm” said the discharge summary from the Home treatment team to the GP. This sentence was one amongst many on the four page long letter.
Saagar was seen by at least 3 psychiatrists – 2 senior trainees and one Consultant and they all missed it. Did they ask him and he didn’t tell them the truth or was it an omission? The scars could easily be seen on his left forearm. They were clearly visible. Did they find the scars and questioned him about them? Did he make up a convincing story for them as he did for me? Or were they missed altogether? No one asked me about his history of self harm. He was mentally ill at the time and I don’t think I was.
At the Coroner’s inquest when this question came up, the psychiatric team said that the remark was made because Saagar never presented to the Emergency department with self-inflicted injuries. Is that a valid criterion?
Self harm is a personal and often a very private act. Given it is an important clue to the extent of a person’s emotional suffering, we as carers and professionals cannot afford to miss it.
“The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain.”
– Karl Marx