I am glad that mental illness is being discussed more openly these days, a tribute, I would like to think, to those of us who have been writing and talking about our condition for years. But this is a very complicated issue, and the language used can sometimes backfire and perpetuate stigma.
I appreciate the good intentions of Kristof's piece. I absolutely agree with him about the need for more psychiatric beds in this country. But I disagree with Kristof's underlying premise that most of the mentally ill end up in jail or cannot hold down a job.
People with serious mental illness would tell you that what they seek is a world without stigma, a world where they don't have to fear losing their jobs or their lovers because of any perceived association with criminals.
The Times should know better than to attribute suicide to economic matters such as unemployment. While the paper of record put the offensive phrase in quotes, it still should have been more careful with its language.
Disorders may take different forms in certain cultures, but I am heartened that the world is beginning to recognize the pervasiveness of mental illness. That's nice after 50,000 to 100,000 years as a species.