Big businesses seem to have decided it’s open season on demonising people with mental illnesses. Asda and Tesco were forced to apologise last month for selling Halloween costumes of “mental patient” and “psycho ward” murderers.
Then the Sun newspaper decided to back them up with a front page claiming 1,200 people had been killed by “mental patients” in the last decade. The real figure is barely half what the Sun reported.
And far from its hype of a “crisis”, the number of such killings is going down, not up. It’s half of a hundredth of a percent of the 1.2 million people who are using mental health services at any given time.
But the number of suicides by mental health patients is going up, and it’s already more than 20 times higher—1,333 in just one year. But we shouldn’t expect any better from the paper that once called boxer Frank Bruno “a nut” for checking into a psychiatric ward.
Mental health problems are common—and the stresses of living under capitalism can make them worse. Yet even the most severe conditions such as schizophrenia can be managed with care and support. Mocking or demonising those who get medical help doesn’t make anyone safer.
But it can drive a lot of people further into despair.