Issue 34 Facing up to Mental Illness

Facing up to Mental Illness

on Thursday, 31 July 2003. Posted in Issue 34 Facing up to Mental Illness, 1999

Bill Toner, SJ

April 1999


The moral character of a society can best be judged by the way it looks after the weakest and most vulnerable of its members. These include, for instance, the very poor, the homeless, travellers and gypsies, the unborn, children, asylum-seekers, the sick, the elderly, the imprisoned. There is no evidence that Ireland is, in general, significantly worse than many other countries in looking after its most marginalised groups. But neither is it significantly better. Recently it was severely indicted by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child for the lack of policies and the inadequacies of services for vulnerable and at-risk children, as reported in Working Notes (Issue 31).

Hopelessness and Suicide in Prison

on Thursday, 31 July 2003. Posted in Issue 34 Facing up to Mental Illness, 1999

Tony O'Riordan, SJ

April 1999


Why do people kill themselves? Because they have lost hope. People who have hope can envisage a future and can see what they are going to do tomorrow, next week and even in the years ahead. This ability to look forward to the future with a degree of confidence is what keeps us going in life.

Sadly it seems as if a growing number of Irish people are lacking in hope. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of suicides in Ireland in recent years, particularly among young males. 359 suicides were recorded in the first 9 months of last year. It is estimated that the figure for the entire year will exceed 500. This will be significantly more than the number of people killed in road accidents in 1998, which is estimated at 460.

We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad... Read full editorial

Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society. It has been produced since 1987.