I thought that if his doctors would have recognised how sick Saagar was, they would have known that the best thing to do was to refer him to the Psychiatric services. They would admit him to the hospital, look after him and keep him safe. He would recover fully, return home and resume his life as normal – play the drums, read and speak French, play cricket, go out with his friends, go to the gym, make me laugh till I had tears in my eyes and soon, return to University.
Now I know, that I was so wrong at so many levels.
The GP didn’t think his condition was life-threatening, even after he told him it was. How much more obvious did it have to be? They didn’t believe him. If at all they did, they didn’t take him seriously. Or maybe they simply didn’t know what to do.
GPs are not trained or supported in looking after suicidal patients.
If they would have made a referral to the Mental hospital, he would have waited for a long time to be seen. Maybe he would have died while on the waiting list, like many others.
GPs are dis-incentivised to make referrals to specialist services in various ways.
- Admit him to the hospital?
No chance! That would not have happened as there would have been no beds. If there were beds, there would have been others much sicker than him, ahead of him in the queue.
Hospitals have very poor capacity and very high thresholds for admission to inpatient beds.
- Keep him safe?
490 patients died while detained under the Mental Health Act in the year up to March 21. At least 324, for non-COVID reasons.
Being an inpatient does not mean – safety.
- Recover fully?
Many patients report traumatic experiences while admitted to mental hospitals. The treatment is often not conducive to recovery. Concerns include coercion by staff, fear of assault from other patients, lack of therapeutic opportunities and limited support.
There is little understanding of what the patient needs, to recover.
I am presently reading a book – ‘Building a life worth living’ by Marsha, M Linehan. She is the psychologist who developed Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, to help suicidal individuals to build their lives. Much before she did that, she was a seriously suicidal and self-harming young adult.
I am learning so much.