Oriana Johnson (@Oriabanana)
As we are in Mental Health Awareness week in the UK (taking place 18th May - 24th May 2020), there is a lot of discussion on the support and help available for those who have mental health difficulties. This has, of course, been amplified by the current on going crisis and issues that have come from that. Although, there is still a critical discussion on the support services in the UK, there is a similar discussion in Japan after the suicide of Michitaka Muto in April 2016.
Japanese fighter Michitaka Muto (4-3-1) (武藤道隆), was once aiming for big things in the sport before he died from suicide aged 28 or 29. Whilst he failed to achieve the heady heights he had hoped for in the ring he certainly touches lives.
As a fighter Muto debuted in 2013, fighting out of the Katsuki Gym. He would go unbeaten in his first 4 bouts, going 3-0-1, before losing 3 of his 4 final bouts, including a decision loss to Seigo Yuri Akui.
As well as being a boxer Muto was also a teacher, but it's what happened outside the realms of his work that really brought him to the attentiion of the wider Japanese public.
In February 2016 Muto was diagnosed with schizophrenia 2 months before his death by suicide. Schizophrenia symptoms are typically confused thinking, delusions, hallucinations (both visual and audible) as well as becoming withdrawn. The treatment for schizophrenia is a mix of therapy, medications and support from multi-agencies. For those with acute symptoms or in crisis, there may be a detention in a psychiatric ward.
Muto was reportedly in crisis as in February 2016, he was admitted to a psychiatric ward after behaving erratically and strangely related to his diagnosis of schizophrenia. This stay at the psychiatric ward meant medication had stabilized his schizophrenic symptoms.
On the evening of his discharge, Muto became agitated, which resulted in being restrained and medicated similarly to the day he was admitted to the ward in crisis. Muto's family were feeling uneasy with the discharge, which happened as scheduled, and it seems like he was not well enough to be discharged. His condition was described as worse than it was when he was admitted.
After his discharge, Muto was cared for by his father, who ensured his anti-psychotic medication was taken. It is an important point to raise, that anti-psychotic medication can make suicidal symptoms worsen and consideration needs to occur when prescribed to suicidal patients.
Muto wanted to be readmitted to the psychiatric ward due to the symptoms and the distress he was feeling, but was told he was not able to be readmitted. This was due to the fact that they do not admit patients back for at least 3 months after the discharge. Looking at this form an external view, this feels very unsupportive and unprofessional, as it was obvious that Muto was still suffering with his mental health and needed care in the ward. It must of been incredible difficult for his father too, who has been caring for his son but knowing he needed professional care.
Sadly Muto died by suicide in April 2016, 2 months after the first visit to the psychiatric ward.
Michitaka Muto's father worked with a team to create a documentary, roughly translated as "The Death of a Boxer: My Father's Fight for Mental Health", regarding his son's treatment and death. Sadly have yet to locate, however reports from those who have seen it state it it highlights some issues in Muto's mental health care as well as highlighting issues within the service. It seemed that the hospital management valued profits of the service above that of the patients. The director of the documentary, Hiroshi Wada, hoped that the documentary encourages viewers to think about mental health care more.
Our thoughts go out to Michitaka Muto's family and friends, as well as anyone who is bereaved by suicide.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please seek support and health from your local crisis centre. You are not alone.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).