The stigma causes some patients not to seek treatment. Many families resist sending loved ones who are ill to get care. Patients suffer. Patients with schizophrenia die at a younger age than healthy people. In too many instances, patients kill themselves. Suicide is the number one cause of premature death in schizophrenia. Lives are ruined.
I’m frustrated by this. If someone suffers a stroke or a concussion, we say, “We need to get them help right away.” If a person suffers from cognitive decline later in life, we say the same thing. If a child has a reading disability, we say, “We need to do something about that.”
But if a 20-year-old kid has a psychotic episode, society wants to ignore him. Many mentally ill people end up becoming homeless or the victims of crimes and have nowhere to turn. The largest psychiatric treatment center in the United States isn’t a hospital. It’s the Los Angeles County jail. The three largest psychiatric centers in the U.S. are jails.