Facts around suicide and detention orders

Facts around suicide and detention orders

Dear Editor, The recent media and political reports about the young pregnant mother detained under the Mental Health Act 2001 show a large lack of knowledge of what suicidal ideation is and how mental health law works around it.

If any person arrives to A&E in an actively suicidal state they are assessed quickly and admitted for psychiatric care. If they are unwilling to stay voluntarily in psychiatric care, there is a thorough process of medical reviews to determine if the person’s suicidality is based on a psychiatric illness.

Suicidal ideation is not a mental illness. It very frequently is a symptom of an underlying illness, a mood disorder or a psychotic episode. Psychiatric care would be negligent if it did not identify this illness and treat it even against the patient’s will. The law in this regard makes no reference to whether the patient is pregnant or not – the issue is whether the person is mentally ill as defined under the Mental Health Act.

When the young mother presented as suicidal, the consultant in charge assessed her as having a mental health disorder, and in that situation rightly put the mental health legislation in action by initiating a detention order and starting to treat her. Pregnancy is not a mental illness but if it was causing her severe anxiety or depression, the correct course of action is to treat the anxiety or depression. When she was then assessed subsequently as not being mentally ill, she was discharged.

It is very misleading for media reports to suggest she was detained because she asked for an abortion. It is unreasonable to demonise psychiatrists who provide appropriate psychiatric treatment for patients who present as suicidal while pregnant – as a lot of evidence has shown, abortion is not a treatment for suicidal intent. I say all this as a psychiatric nurse who believes in the human dignity of all life, at all stages of life, regardless of the circumstances of that life.

Yours etc.,
James Kevin Foley, BSc, RPN, Counselling Dip.
Clondalkin, Dublin

Time for silent majority to be heard

Dear Editor, I couldn’t agree more with Mickey Harte (IC 22/06/2017) that the Irish public still holds unborn life dear. Despite the push for abortion from the media and political circles, the vast majority of Irish people are at heart against or at least very uncomfortable with the idea of abortion. The various polls that have been carried out in recent weeks all agree that Ireland is against abortion on demand.

It is sympathy for people in difficult cases, a girl pregnant as a result of incest or a couple told their child will not survive outside the womb, that stirs people to consider legalising abortion. The Repeal the Eighth movement know this and constantly cite these examples. But if we allow for abortion in this country, the majority of the babies killed as a result will be perfectly healthy, or will have conditions which are not life threatening such as Downs Syndrome. As Mickey Harte said the exception should not make the rule and once you cross that line, it will be very difficult to stop abortion on demand becoming an inevitability.

There will be a rally for life in Dublin on Saturday, July 1. We have heard enough from the pro-abortion media and politicians. This is an opportunity for the rest of Ireland to have its voice heard.

Yours etc.,
Bernie Buckley,


Dear Editor, The UN Human Rights Committee’s claim that Ireland’s abortion law is a “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” of women is an incredible statement. Our law protects both the life of the mother and the unborn baby. What is more fair and balanced than that? Considering the terrible torture, slavery and persecution that is being committed throughout the world, and state controlled in some countries, I don’t understand why the UN keeps attacking Ireland over abortion.

Yours etc,
Maeve Walsh,
Bray, Co. Wicklow

Right to life is the most fundamental

Dear Editor, Fr Rolheiser’s article (IC 08/06/2017) is thoughtful: “The protection of life and promotion of justice are all of one piece.”

He offers a long list of moral issues and concerns – abortion, nuclear war (non-nuclear war?), lack of ecological sensitivity, refugees, racism, sexism, poverty and inequality etc. Political correctness is conspicuous by its presence no doubt.

The principle, I can see where he is coming from, yet practical reality remains relevant. Prioritisation is vital. The natural hence universal right to life belongs to all.

There is a natural hierarchy of human rights. Simply, some are more important than others. The invisible right to life of all human beings is fundamental, for without it, all other rights are rendered redundant. This seems self-evident.

Yours etc.,
Seán Bearnabhail,
Drumcondra, Dublin 9.

Brid Smith TD is just playing at sematics

Dear Editor, Bríd Smith TD is now playing lexical semantics trying to explain her statement – the Church should be put in the dustbin of history – made in Dáil Éireann on June 1. Her statement was no surprise because, as a far left radical, she has been a perpetual protester, and one who shows a deep disdain for the Catholic Church.

Whilst things happened in the past that are regrettable and should not have happened through the Church, they cannot blight out the record of great service and delivery by so many branches of the Church to the Irish people, and to the poor in the developing world to this day.

As Deputy Smith pursues banishing the Church from the public square in the disguise of separating Church and State, so many Catholic-inspired organisations are at the forefront in the development of innovative and creative approaches to overcoming housing problems and supporting the poor. Examples are Focus Ireland, Peter McVerry Trust, Sophia Housing, De Paul Housing, Crosscare, Respond Housing, and SVP. In 2016, Crosscare provided 127,750 bed nights to over 1,600 people in six residences for people experiencing homelessness in Dublin. Starting in the 1970s, Fr Harry Bohan built hundreds of houses through the Rural Housing Organisation. This is delivery in housing that is faith-inspired.

It would take a large book to document delivery by the Church in health, education and social services. But, Deputy Smith simply wants that record “put in the dustbin of history”. Her words speak for themselves, and illustrate her values and lack of fairness or recognition.

Yours etc.,
Matt Moran,
Waterfall, Cork

Dear Editor, What Bríd Smith (IC 22/06/2017) fails to recognise is that the state socialism she espouses has long been consigned to the dustbin of history. It was imposed in Russia and a swathe of Eastern European nations who managed to escape from its shackles after decades of tyranny. Even China has quietly crept away from state socialism and has embraced capitalism.

In contrast, the influence of the Catholic Church in the development of this country has been overwhelmingly positive, despite the well-ventilated shortcomings of which it has been guilty.

Bríd Smith must be worried when she has taken to writing to The Irish Catholic. Perhaps she realises that, in a country that is 78% Catholic, at least some of her electorate might not share her views. I’m sure they will be relieved at the ‘clarification’ of her gratuitously offensive remarks.

Yours etc.,
Gabriel Meehan,
Bailieborough, Co. Cavan.

Dear Editor, Does Bríd Smith TD really think that saying the Church belongs in the “dustbin of history” is any less insulting to Catholics than just an ordinary bin?

Your etc.,
Noeleen Lynch,
Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.