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Persuasive Speech: Schizophrenia and Suicide

Are Schizophrenia and Suicide Related?

I have been given the assignment of giving a persuasive speech and I have been wracking my brain trying to think of a topic that I feel is important that perhaps many people don't know enough about, which led me to the subject of schizophrenia. I began looking up basic information on it and found a couple of things. I read that one in every four families is affected in some way by schizophrenia. I also read these statistics: four in ten people who suffer from schizophrenia attempt suicide. One in ten people who suffer from schizophrenia dies by suicide. So my idea was persuade my audience in some way about schizophrenia and suicide prevention, as it's a very real and correlated risk. Telling people about it would simply be informing them, but I need to persuade them to do something. But how? My experience has cast modern medicine as an option, but a frightening one, so I wouldn't have any personal credibility in my recommending of it. My experience, which I've not talked of much to anyone up to this point, could show them what could happen if they don't do anything at all to help someone, as I knew someone who succumbed to such a thing. If anyone can offer any ideas at all, I'd appreciate it.

Good afternoon.

I agree that this is a very important topic; I have worked with schizophrenic (unmedicated) children for many years. Your post sounds to me as if you are torn; you have personal experience with this subject, but at the same time it ended tragically. You know that medicine can help, but there are serious side effects; the side effect of doing nothing can be deadly.

I suggest you choose something that you can live with. I mean, if you choose to persuade people to help schizophrenic loved ones with medication, perhaps you can explain that there are many different medications out there and that some work, some don't. What will not work is doing nothing. As you probably know, some positive and negative symptoms cannot disappear on their own, and medication provides the only relief. You should take the stance that not making a choice (not helping their loved one) is still a choice, a choice to do nothing; you can persuade them that this is a poor choice, and do some educating about options while you're at it.

Let me know how it goes.

Thank you for responding. You are correct about my experience with schizophrenia, and I deeply appreciate the fact that you yourself are familiar with the subject and your advice on how to persuade.

Just tonight, I found an article that shed another light on the situation. The state that I live in has a Mental Health law that does not allow court-ordered outpatient treatment, which is available in 41 other states. It also requires someone to be an immediate danger to themselves or others before there is any court intervention, and only for a period of 72 hours.

The problems are twofold. One, if family or friends see that someone they know is schizophrenic, that they show the signs, the tendency toward suicide, but is deemed not to be an imminent danger to themselves or others, they can't be committed. Two, if someone is committed, the law permits them to check themselves out and go home. Imagine family and friends breathing a sigh of relief to see that they will receive care and the horror they experience as they are released with no strings attached, with no order to stay on medication.

Perhaps this is something to take issue: encouraging reform for my state's law, to make court-ordered outpatient treatment mandatory. One statistic I've read is that there are more than three times as many people with severe mental illness in my state's jails as there are in state psychiatric hospitals.

I feel opposed to many of the extreme forms of modern medical treatment but, like you said, I am torn. My personal experience has to do with this very law that we tried to make use of because, no matter how we tried, we could not help someone in our family. We called on the Mental Health law after the person attempted suicide by overdosing on antidepressants, but this person, who was mentally ill, lied and said that it was an accident and that they needed to leave and go back to work. Without us being notified, the person was allowed to leave. That person later succeeded in their second attempt. Perhaps if they had been ordered by a judge to undergo treatment, that person would still be alive, totally regardless of any feelings I have toward modern medicine.

Maybe this is a topic that is way too big to handle in a seven-minute speech! But I think the core subject will help people to see that it is a problem, not so much about public safety, but the safety of the people who suffer themselves from schizophrenia and end up with no help of any kind. What do you think?
It sounds like an excellent topic to me -- it's a bit different from the usual run-of-the-mill topics that people normally choose to talk about, you have personal experience with the topic, and so can speak passionately about it, and your subject matter means that the speech will be meant to actually do some real good. As for the scope, maybe you could narrow it down by focusing on only one or two aspects of schizophrenia. As I understand it, schizophrenia is sort of a catch-all term that covers an awful lot of symptoms and conditions. At the same time, even given its already broad scope, it is rarely found alone. Major depression, for instance, while not considered a symptom of schizophrenia itself, often occurs as a comorbid condition. Or, maybe you could focus exclusively on the appropriateness of your state's mental health law, and use your own experiences as anecdotes to prove your points, without getting into a lengthy discussion of schizophrenia specifically. Whatever you decide, good luck coming up with a first draft of your speech.
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