Upon driving through the clustered Bay Street in my home town on Thursday 3rd October, I beheld the sad sight of the well known Darry (Darius Ducreay) as I always knew him. He seemed in utter discomfort as his (as I learned) burned body was half covered with what seemed like a t-shirt. You can excuse my eyes for not having captured the full view since driving safely was my primary objective.
The concerning matter was not so much the half-dressed Darry, but the burned one. My company on board informed me of the sad event which led to his burned body as rumored in the town. Since I hold not the facts to this incident, it is by choice that I at this time will not entertain the allegations. What I will entertain; however, is the greater picture of what I suspect is a high level of intolerance and desensitization of our people to heinous acts of mischief.
Our society has a history of heckling, maliciously stereotyping and even slandering from time to time. Be it through the arts or otherwise, we have been guilty of some of these. Thus, is it a surprise that someone who is mentally ill could be treated with such hateful behavior, while to date its perpetrator lives in comfort without any form of prosecution? Could it be that “Mr. is a Mad Man” overrides his human right to be treated with dignity? We all know Darry has been violent in the past, but we also know he has been rather docile for some time now. I’m not here to cast stones, neither am I interested in meddling in a blame game, but this situation begs for a wake-up call. Again, I am quick to say that I was not there, and cannot put hand in fire for Darry. Still I am hoping that some level of investigation is occurring by the powers that be even as I write.
Meanwhile, the need to advocate for positive change beckons. We must ask ourselves – each of us the following questions:
• How do we treat the sick among us?
• Are we in a position to assist the mentally ill who sleep, walk and live on our streets?
• If we aren’t what needs to be done?
• Is our mental health care system efficient enough to restore the sick to wellness?
• Is the plague of insufficient funding for mental health care a lurking factor?
• Are families affected supported enough by the society?
• Are families directly affected by mental illness, supportive enough toward their own sick loved one (s)?
• Are people afraid to seek help in the early onset of mental illness? What can we do to prevent or lessen this fear?
A Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with a minor in Psychology does not qualify me to behave as if I have answers to these. On the adverse this background stirs the conscience within me to advocate for better treatment for the less fortunate among us. It reminds me of my Christian duty toward the marginalized; it directs me to speak up against societal abuse of its weaker subjects. It demands that I become proactive. Further, I am reminded that mental illness is not a crime. “This collection of mental disorders which are health conditions characterized by alterations in thinking, mood and or behavior associated with distress and or impaired functioning… is a hidden epidemic, because the shame and embarrassment associated with mental problems discourages people from acknowledging and talking about it.” – Understanding Social Problems 4th Edition; Mooney, Knox & Schacht
To expand this issue, before leaving this box, I hereby submit that our society is becoming more violent, intolerant and desensitized than we can imagine. Or it is my ignorance of prior violent acts which lead to this statement? Has our historical past caught up with this generation? It is scary to say the least when:
• Our young men kill each other cold bloodied and we forget so quickly
• Our young women vilify each other in maypwie, via the social media and its cool to laugh at that
• Young women are prostituted via the use of social media, and the scandal offends just a few
• People are robbed; go missing and those in the know remain mute lest they become the next victim
• We have become so individualistic that we care less about the state of our locality
• Politicking becomes more important than truth, integrity and fairness
• People are encouraged to disrespect leaders and national offices
With all these in mind, and on my heart, I hereby put forward the following:
• Portsmouth needs Unity – Can be fostered through genuine, impartially moderated dialogue among key leaders with grassroots folks.
• The urgent need for a collective community based intervention toward solving the seemingly unobtrusive war brewing among our youth, particularly our young men. What an untapped resource.
• The health sector / health personnel must be rallied around; supported and encouraged to organize and or lead mental health education sessions and or drives
• Strategies for development of a support system for the mentally ill must be sought and developed.
• The need for resuscitation or development (where they don’t exist) of community / hamlet based developmental or interest groups / organizations within the Town and its environs. Such framework could lead to friendlier environments, less deviant behaviors, and more support based activities.
Conclusively, I hereby further submit to all and sundry:
This TOWN and its Residence MUST take to task and demand from ANY leader or potential leaders aspiring to represent it in the future, their proposals, plans and preliminary foundations (work / action) being set / set toward achieving these above mentioned necessary goals. Talk is Not enough!