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Mental illness affects the lives of family and society

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Published on Mon, Sep 27, 2010 by BY PAM STEVENS | MANAGING EDITOR

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Watching the news last Thursday night was saddening to say the least.

Hearing the report on the grandmother who shot and killed her son-in-law, two teenage granddaughters and then turned the gun on herself was distressing.

As her daughter, who was also shot, was being helped, she told police, “My mother has gone crazy.” That was the first thought to come to mind when I heard the story unfold on the 10 o’clock news. Why else would something like this happen?

Other family members living in the house confirmed that Saroeun Phan, also known as Chhouy Harm, had been struggling with schizophrenia and depression and weren’t sure if she had been taking her medications.

Reports say that Phan had started shooting around 1:30 p.m. and continued until there were no bullets left. They also said that there had been arguments in the home prior to the shooting.

This terrifying incident was probably just the last of many dreadful things that have happened to this family who have been struggling with mental illness for some time.

Mental illness doesn’t just affect the person suffering with the disease, mental illness affects all who care about them or love them. It can also involve people who may not even know them at all.

It seems there are many who suffer with some kind of mental illness, most of us probably know someone ourselves. What has happened to make it so prevalent these days?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.”

While the impact to families is great, it also affects society, costing millions in disability and health care.
“Data developed by the massive Global Burden of Disease study conducted by the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and Harvard University, reveal that mental illness, including suicide, accounts for over 15 percent of the burden of disease in established market economies, such as the United States. This is more than the disease burden caused by all cancers,” NIMH states.

With statistics like these, it is evident that more needs to be done to help and even find cures for those suffering from mental illness.

Let’s hope that our families won’t have to suffer the terrible effects of mental illness in the way that Saroeun Phan’s did.

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