A Sister Reflects on Her Brother’s Lost Life
(March 7, 2014) Margie Warrell shares her sorrow over her brother Peter’s passing and calls on all of us to view individuals with severe mental illness as the vulnerable human beings they are in a heartfelt opinion piece (“Mental Illness: Extend Compassion, Not Judgment,” Forbes, Mar. 2).
In the heartfelt opinion piece, Warrell describes her brother, Peter, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and spent ten years with his illness before taking his life. A once talented athlete with a vibrant wit, Peter became overweight and was tormented by shame of his illness, withdrawing from seeing old friends.
“When Peter took his life . . . it was because he had given up any hope that life would ever get better,” Warrell writes. “While none of us liked to admit it, we all had.”
Warrell says she wishes that instead of judgment, people would extend compassion to individuals with mental illnesses and that they would recognize the heartache they and those who love them endure.
“Next time you hear of an innocent person who is murdered by someone with a mental illness, I would love you to think about the perpetuator not as the brutal heartless villain, but as a victim also,” Warrel requests of her audience.
We echo this plea. Psychosis is a terrible state of twisted reality that truly creates a prison within one’s own mind. It is inhumane that society often views mental illness as a reflection of someone’s character, or as a choice.
Unfortunately, the stigma associated with severe mental illness is made worse by acts of violence related to it. It is our job as a society to act in ways that protect those among us suffering frailty of mind, and to take collective responsibility when they lack treatment or moral support from their communities.
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