Depression: How lack of awareness led to a tragic suicide

PETALING JAYA: Poor treatment and lack of awareness of mental health issues in Malaysia led a woman to lose her husband in a tragic way to bipolar disorder.

Bellinda who is in her 60’s said her husband committed suicide more than a decade ago, and did so due to lack of medical support and attention.

He was diagnosed with bipolar when he was 33 years old, eight years after he married Bellinda, but she was confident that she could help him by being with him.

Bellinda who appeared unfazed by all she had gone through, said her husband, had his good and bad days.

“Some days he would be really cheerful and happy, while on others he would lock himself up in a room and ignore everyone.

“One time, he went out to buy a car without telling anyone. He wrote the dealers a bank draft for RM100,000. He wanted to get a Mercedes for me, but I did not want it and we had enough cars in the house.

“When I went back to the bank and showed them the letters from the doctors and explained that he was not in the right state of mind to have made the purchase, the bank just said they could not do anything about it,” she said.

They just told me that he had made the purchase out of his own free will and therefore, a cancellation cannot be done.

“What I do not understand is that, if an individual with mental health issues is not allowed to get insurance coverage due to their inability to commit to a contract, why enable them to make reckless purchases?

It was unfair and they should not have allowed something like that,” she said.

She added that later she found out her 17 year old daughter also had the same condition.

“During this period, my husband was getting more and more dependent  on his medication and we told the hospital that we would like to reduce his dependence on the drugs.

“The hospital somehow did not think this through very much and just completely stopped him from all his medication at once.

“This did not work well for him and  during one of his down days, he took his own life and that was my falling point from when I became depressed,” she said.

She  shared that she was afraid of a similar situation happening to her daughter, so she sent her away to Australia to complete her higher education.

“She is 47 now, and it has been exactly 30 years after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She has recovered and is now with an organisation to help others who suffer from the same condition.

“I can be sure this was because of how she was treated there, the difference of the support she got there and the people who empathised with her situation instead of asking her to ‘snap out of it’,” she said.

Bellinda added that she herself suffered depression for almost two years but ventured onto her recovery journey after she started helping others who suffered the same fate.

“In addition to that I picked up meditation and that really helped,” she said.

In the course of the conversation, she said that those suffering from mental health problems should  first learn to accept themselves for who they are.

“Once they can do that, they will know who to go to and how to handle the situation,” she added.

Related stories:

Depression: Poor conditions common in mental health care facilities

Depression: 40% of Malaysians will suffer from mental health issues in their lifetime

Depression: Health Ministry needs to boost mental health facilities


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