One teenage suicide is too many, Minister.

Posted: November 20, 2012 in Political musings
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Failing the mentally ill teenager – again – and yet another young life lost. I reproduce this story from the West Australian because – as with previous posts – it must be clear to everyone that we are simply not doing enough to help young people and we need to be kept reminded of the fact until we are.

Alysha and her Mum. They are both in our prayers today.

Look at the comment of the WA health minister at the end of this article. Simply incredible that she should refer to the raft of services available when we know for a fact that services are hopelessly inadequate anywhere. Minister – Ministers, everywhere, in Australia and overseas – while ONE child takes their own life because they can’t get the help they need, you have failed. Zero is the goal. Until then, you are failures. Simple as that.

Stop giving us excuses. Give us ACTION. ACTION THIS DAY!

A teenage girl clinging to life in a Perth hospital has sent a powerful message to the WA Government about the state of its mental health services in two videos she recorded before she attempted suicide.

Alysha Devereux, 17, is in a critical condition in intensive care at Joondalup Health Campus where doctors have told her devastated mother Roxanne Devereux they fear her daughter is permanently brain dead.

Alysha tried to take her life in the backyard of her Clarkson home three weeks ago.

She recorded the videos on her iPad, talking about her long battle with depression.

In the videos, she launched a damning criticism of the State’s mental health services, slating a lack of adequate care for adolescents with mental health problems.

“Too old for some places. Too young for other places. The mental health system is fucked, absolutely fucked. It’s like saying you can’t have a mental problem between 16 and 18 because there’s nowhere for us to put you,” she says.

“Tonight I’m going to die. I’ve had enough. Something needs to be done about the mental health system otherwise more people like me are going to die.”

Last week, a six-month review of WA’s mental health services found they were overstretched, under- resourced and fragmented.

Professor Bryant Stokes, who led the independent review, said more beds for adolescent mental health patients were urgently needed.

Joondalup Health Campus chief executive Kempton Cowan said Ms Devereux shared Alysha’s videos with him and he planned to pass them to the relevant ministers.

“The videos are heartbreaking and have affected me deeply,” he said. “My heart goes out to Alysha and her family at this very difficult time.”

Ms Devereux said Alysha’s mental health had deteriorated this year, but she could not get the help she needed. Alysha had attempted suicide twice in September and was taken to the Bentley Adolescent Unit, WA’s only secure psychiatric unit for adolescents, as an involuntary patient.

But Ms Devereux said her daughter was discharged the next day and when they went to their local child and adolescent mental health clinic, they were told the next available appointment to see a mental health specialist was three weeks away.

Before Alysha could go to that appointment, she attempted suicide again on October 29.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton, who was told about the videos’ content yesterday, said she was shocked by Alysha’s circumstances and pointed to “a raft of services available”.

She urged parents and young people in distress to contact their GP or the mental health emergency response line, 1300 555 788 (metropolitan) or 1800 676 822 (Peel).

  1. How awful. It sounds like the state of mental health here in the U.S. It’s gotten a bit better in the last few years; at least now insurance companies have to cover mental health services under the same conditions as other services. But *access* is a major problem, and too many people just can’t afford it. I thought things were much better in the rest of the industrialized world, but maybe not…


  2. jvdix says:

    Suicide, at any age, is, I believe, very ill understood. As a survivor of having felt suicidal, I believe some kind of chemical imbalance is involved, possibly – probably – not the same chemical imbalance for everyone (for me, not having enough potassium in my system was always a trigger). I can contribute that feeling suicidal feels SO different from any other mental state, including depression, as to bolster my belief that more than mental health is involved. But I have no idea how to form a hypothesis to test across a test group and a control group.


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