Presentation letter from Mrs Sheila Barry to Dean, RSM

Demonstration | Royal Society of Medicine | 1.00pm to 6.00pm

1 Wimpole Street London W1G 0AE

Monday 28 April 2008

A personal letter from Mrs Sheila Barry to the Dean, Royal Society of Medicine, will also be presented to the Royal Society at the demonstration on Monday, 28 April at 1.00pm.


Presentation letter from Mrs Sheila Barry

24th April 2008

Dr John Scadding, Dean
Royal College of Medicine
1 Wimpole Street
London WIG OAE
Dear Dr Scadding

RSM Conference 28th April 2008

You will have received many letters from ME sufferers, and their carers, expressing dismay at the unbalanced list of speakers at this conference.

I am writing on a more personal level. My daughter, my only child, was a long term ME sufferer. She died by her own choice on her 27th birthday. She walked out of her flat in the middle of the night, the first time she had been out alone for eight years and took an overdose. It was 9 days before her body was found behind a church, 250 yards from her flat. The police later admitted that they had failed to search there. It was 4 years later before an Inquest was heard and ME was not even mentioned as a cause of death. It was simply recorded as ‘she killed herself’. Nobody seemed interested as to why she took this action. It is impossible to ascertain just how many sufferers have taken such action as ME is not recorded on the Death Certificates. To my knowledge only two people in UK have had M.E. recorded as cause of death on their Death Certificates – Annabel Senior and Sophia Mirza, both of whom were long term sufferers and died in extremely tragic circumstances.

My daughter’s health was, in fact, considerably better than it had been for years but she was no way at a stage where she could return to work. She would soon have to complete yet another application for DLA if she wanted to be able to maintain her flat and independence. She felt alone, isolated and with little hope for the future. Appealing for Benefits with an ‘invisible’ illness puts sufferers in an impossible position. They are treated in such a horrendous manner by the Benefit Agency staff that my daughter said that she would never ever apply again. Her action meant that she never had to.

Her death has had a most devastating effect on our family. I have since discovered that she was the third ME sufferer in this area to take such action. I was contacted by hundreds of sufferers from all around the country who felt that they had little to continue to live for. They did not want to live for another 2 or 3 decades with such a cruel illness. Reading their e-mails was a most harrowing experience.

I believe that the actions of the psychiatric lobby to have ME classified as a psychiatric illness and to prevent research into the cause, and a diagnostic test were the major reason that my daughter chose to end her life

Yours faithfully

Sheila Barry


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