All Lives Matter: Death of 94 psychiatric patients

2017-02-02 07:48

Tragic death of so many lives, once again, and we are still counting - awaiting more deaths.

I found myself with no feeling and numb after reading the Health Ombudsman's Report on the manner of the death of 94 mental health patience.

The death of any person should diminish us. The death of so many people, so recklessly, should crush our spirits and drive us to do something en masse to show our solidarity and shared humanity. We should be closing ranks. We should be searching for answers.

After reading the Report, I found consolation from my good noble psychologist friend in the United States, Dr Ozodi Osuji. Dr Osuji is Nigerian born but has been living in the US for many years. My friend obtained his PhD in psychology from the University of California in Los Angeles. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the CEO of two American mental health hospitals. He was only in his early 30s when he was a CEO of a mental health hospital

My friend was also a professor in psychology, psychiatry and sociology. He has published over a hundred books and thousands of articles in peer reviewed journals.

He presently lives in Anchorage, Alaska (USA) and teaches at the University of Alaska.

The above qualifications should remove any doubts about my friend's abilities/capabilities. He is a first rate psychologist and researcher.

The most severe form of mental illness is schizophrenia. Most people believe that a diagnosis of schizophrenia is equivalent to a life sentence of unhappiness. A study was made at the University California in San Diego that found that many people with schizophrenia reported that they feel happy and satisfied with their lives all or most of the time. In other words they are normal people.  And most schizophrenia patients were enrolled in vocational training.

Those patients who reported high levels of happiness enjoyed the same personal qualities that help mentally healthy people find happiness, like a higher degree of personal mastery, a greater degree of optimism and more emotional resilience, or the ability to adapt to and cope with adversity and stress. The only difference appeared to be that happy schizophrenia patients report more emotional resilience than their mentally healthy counterparts.

These findings should change the way schizophrenia is treated and viewed.

Clearly the officials in Gauteng had a terrible low consideration of the lives of so many people they have destroyed. In their estimation the lives of these people did not matter. They did not view the lives of these people sacred or important.

Life Esidimeni had been contracted for nearly 40 years, but Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu terminated that contract, citing costs. That means during the days of apartheid the mentally ill people were valued than it is today. Think about the many people you meet that tell you of their experiences during Apartheid and their terrible conditions now.

The Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba says: "There was no food, no water, no warmth". Terrible inhuman conditions.

We learn that conscience can be corrupted, suffering death. To consider the death of conscience is a grave thing. Conscience is the center of our moral being, out of which flow the issues of life, if it dies or corrupted or disordered, I wonder if we can truly call who is left, human.

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