BBC documentary was ‘anti-loony pornography’

A BBC documentary about members of the public killed by people with mental health problems has been dubbed “anti-loony pornography”

Marion Janner, founder of a campaign to improve psychiatric wards, called Star Wards, was responding to Why Did You Kill My Dad? which was broadcast on BBC2 on Monday.

The programme was made by Julian Hendy whose father was killed by a man diagnosed with schizophrenia.

It claimed mental health NHS trusts are failing to learn from inquiries into homicides by people under their care. The programme centred on viewpoints from victim’s families.

Mr Hendy claimed that when counting the number of victims there were 100 killings per year by mentally ill people.

Service users writing on a blog run by the mental health charity, Mind, condemned the programme.

Ms Janner wrote:”It is the worst programme I’ve ever seen. Anti-loony pornography. Details of the tragedies built up into the most horrific visual and emotional picture of the danger posed by mentally ill people.

“Despite talking about the number of recorded homicides committed by the mentally ill each year (up to 100 apparently), it failed to mention the total number of recorded homicides committed each year in Britain (600-700).

“Given that the number of people with significant mental illness in Britain has been estimated as approximately 1 in 6, these figures suggest that someone with mental illness is no more likely to commit homicide than anyone else.”

Fenella Lemonsky, an expert by experience at the Department of Health’s Mental Health Research Network wrote on the blog: “I think it’s shocking that in this day and age the BBC has to sensationalise the ‘psychotic violent killers’ ”

“I wasn’t sure what to expect other than bias but this was worse. It was cashing in on relatives’ trauma (and I am empathic to anyone who has been bereaved by whatever means) and making all those with a mental illness a risk.

“It also makes out that the mental health trusts should keep those deemed at risk under lock and key forever.”

Author and service user Louise Pembroke said: “Homicides committed by the sane far outweigh homicides by us. Often in high-profile cases people did ask for help. Michael Stone asked for help but was turned away because his diagnosis [personality disorder] was viewed as untreatable.

“Suicide by mental health service users is far more common than homicide and we are far more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators. Where are the stats on that?”

Professor Louis Appleby, who heads the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Health Problems, told the BBC: “There are about 50 cases a year, so that’s 50 people who are convicted of a homicide, who in the 12 months before the incident, were in contact with specialist mental health care. They account for about nine per cent of all homicide convictions.”

Writing in the Daily Mail Mr Hendy questioned the use of the term ‘service users’.

He wrote: “Mental health is full of euphemisms these days. I found that people aren’t mentally ill anymore – they are ‘service users’. There are no deaths, instead there are ‘adverse events’ or ‘serious untoward incidents’.

“It is a world where it appears that no discussion about violence by the mentally ill is possible. Some professionals argue that merely talking about the problem is ‘unbalanced’. Some deny the problem exists at all.The prevailing philosophy in Britain today encourages ‘ service-user involvement and empowerment’, and even asks them to help shape official policy. That policy suggests ‘service users’ alone direct when and how they receive treatment.That’s fine for people who have insight into their condition, but it’s extremely problematic for the many seriously ill psychotic patients who don’t even believe they are ill and are consciously avoiding treatment.”

Leave a Reply