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Kingston charity criticises Sun's '1,200 killed by mental patients' headline
5:10pm Wednesday 9th October 2013 in News
A Kingston mental health charity has criticised The Sun newspaper for 'promoting fear' with its headline about killings and mental health patients, writes Aniqah Choudhri.
The story claimed 1,200 people had been killed by mental health patients over 10 years under the headline “1,200 killed by mental patients”.
The headline has been widely criticised with accusations it promotes fear and stigmatises people with mental illnesses.
Kay Harris, chief executive of Surbiton's Fircroft Trust, which works with people with mental health problems, said: "For a national newspaper to report in this way takes us and the people we support back a long way. It’s disappointing they stoop so low."
Aine Lark, chairwoman of Kingston Arts, who also works with the Fircroft Trust, said, “The Sun should make an apology for that headline. It’s shocking and sensationalist and it promotes fear. Very misguided and ill informed. If anyone has seen this headline I hope they know that.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Chrissie Hitchcock, who works for South West London and St George's Mental Health Trust which runs Tolworth Hospital, said: "The Sun should apologise and donate to a mental health charity".
Channel 4's fact check blog also questioned the accuracy of the figures, which were drawn from a report into suicides and killing by people with mental health problems.
It said the number of people actually being treated at the time of a homicide over the 10 year period was 738.
The report says: "Homicide by mental health patients has fallen substantially since a peak in 2006, and the figures for the most recent confirmed years, 2009-2010, are the lowest since we began data collection in 1997."
But Julian Hendy, the founder of Hundred Families, a support group for families who have encountered serious violence by the mentally ill, said that the 1,200 figure was accurate and in many cases the figures recorded the perpetrators and not the victims leading to under-reporting.
He said: "I fear that the reaction to the Sun’s piece will cause people to not talk about it and more innocent people will die. If you treat the violence of the few, you can prevent the stigma of the many."
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