You might remember this story: Last November, Jillian McCabe, 34, threw her 6-year-old autistic son London off a bridge in Newport, Ore. The horrifying end to London’s life came in the midst of his mother’s struggle with mental illness, which caused her to hear voices in her head — she told police they told her to kill him. Although that’s never an excuse to commit such a horrible crime, similar stories have popped up in recent years, all of which involved crimes committed because the voices inside peoples’ heads told them to do it.
For people with mental illness, auditory hallucinations are very real, and rather widespread. People with schizophrenia are the most obvious victims of these sinister voices, but people with bipolar disorder, manic depression, and psychotic experiences hear them too. In fact, the mind is so delicate that being anxious can sometimes trigger simple hallucinations.
If you’re curious about what these voices sound like, then put some headphones on and play the video above, which comes from Jarrad Wale, a mental health worker. But here’s a warning: it gets pretty dark. By somewhere around the halfway mark, it’s easy to see why someone with these voices constantly playing through their head starts to fall apart — whether it’s through criminal activity or self-harm.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of all this is that people with mental illness rarely get the help they need. One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue in 2011, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, yet only 38 percent of them get treatment. Friends and family can help, however, by showing these people that there doesn’t have to be a stigma attached to mental illness, and that there are resources out there.