Schizophrenia: A Disease that May End Up Killing You

In late 2016, Imdad Ali, a 50 year old electrician, had been sentenced to be hanged for the murder of an imam, at a mosque on the outskirts of Lahore. However, there was one major complication in all this. Imdad was schizophrenic.

It ran in the family. His father- a victim of the same disease; died by jumping in front of a train. Poverty-stricken, they could not afford treatment for Imdad; a problem, which culminated in the murder of an imam.

Although Imdad came really close to execution, with initial pleas being denied on the grounds that, “schizophrenia is not a permanent illness”, eventually, the case was adjourned. A committee was appointed to assess Imdad’s mental health. His execution was stayed, but his condition has worsened over the years.

There are countless others like Imdad, who are sitting in prison, not because of their ill-intent, but because of their illness. While one must grieve for the families of the victims, people like Imdad, are no less than victims themselves. Victims of their own illness. They are ‘black sheep’, representing everything wrong with a country that gives no importance to mental health.

Khizar Hayat, a former police officer, was also in a similar situation as Imdad. He also suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and he had also murdered someone. On March, this year, he passed away, due to worsening conditions. It’s too late for Hayat, but not for Imdad Ali and the many others like him. These people belong in an institution, not in a jail cell. It is our responsibility, as a nation, to change our outlook on mental illness, before we find ourselves prey to a dysfunctional society, which we may well already be.