Yesterday The Sun printed a damaging and ignorant story about an escaped woman convicted of manslaughter, Patricia Gillette, who suffers from schizophrenia.
Fury at escape of killer schizo
However my main concern is not about the use of an abbreviation which has become widely used as a derogatory term, but about the misrepresentation of schizophrenia in the press.
Whenever somebody suffering from schizophrenia behaves in a violent way, it gets reported in the press and the word "schizophrenic" is thrown in there like it's a predictable explanation. However there are over 600,000 people with schizophrenia in the UK and the vast majority are not violent and never have been.
Granted, newspapers are more likely to pick up on an escaped killer story than a respectable schizophrenic working in a charity shop, but because of the stigma surrounding mental health, I would like to see stories such as that of Patricia Gillette, written up in such a way that they don't propagate inaccurate negative attitudes towards people with schizophrenia.
One example might be, "Patricia Gillette is one of the minority of criminals who suffer from schizophrenia. Schizophrenic people are 14 times more likely to be the victim of violence than the perpetrator." 1
Update 18/11/2009 17:30:
The Sun have retitled the article "Fury at shop escape of killer"
Schizophrenia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia