Still Crying for Help
The Failure of Our Mental Healthcare Services

Livre numérique

Still Crying for Help

A 32-year-old man with mental illness ends his life. Could he have been saved? What care did he receive? Did antipsychotics help or are they a modern-day straitjacket?

Ferid Ferkovic, the author’s son, committed suicide after being refused admission to a Montreal hospital. Throughout treatment, he and his family dealt with changing diagnoses, drugs with devastating side effects, and insensitive health care professionals.

The suicide of Sadia Messaili’s son Ferid Ferkovic, who immigrated to Canada with his family at the age of 12, is the starting point in a challenging quest for truth. First about our failing mental health care system. Then about justice. And finally about better ways to rekindle hope among people who are “still crying for help.”

Sadia Messaili, born in Morocco, is a primary school teacher and special needs educator. She describes her personal journey as that of “a good immigrant wherever she has lived: Algeria, Croatia, Austria and Montreal, Québec.” Her first book about forced migratory wandering is titled La route de la dignité.

Aleshia Jensen is Montreal translator. Her translations include Explosions by Mathieu Poulin and Prague by Maude Veilleux, co-translated with Aimee Wall, both published by QC Fiction.


“[Messaili] describes an environment that is coercive, punitive, and shaped to cater to doctors’ egos rather than patients’ needs. Instead of being listened to, Ferid [Messaili’s son] is drugged into submission… those who have tried to navigate the labyrinthine and under-resourced mental health system will find validation in [her] words.” Anne Thériault, Quill & Quire

“This is an important book for those that are on both sides of the mental health equation. It shows what a grieving parent goes through (“We grieve twice” she tells us) as they come up against a system that just does not work.” James Fisher, The Miramichi Reader


“Full of agony, disbelief, and blind determination, this achingly told story is a love letter from mother to son. Sadia retraces the journey of Ferid’s life mired by multifarious treatment options, none of which rescue him from an assortment of imprecise and ever-changing psychiatric diagnoses. “Painfully underlined is the expectation we all have that our medical system will intervene with therapeutic solutions, not just for physical illness, but for mental illness. The redemption of that failure can be found with alternative therapies beyond what pharmaceutical companies could ever hope to deliver. The stark truth is that reductionist biological theories have led to hopelessness and even suicide. “A powerful book that is required reading to further the conversation about mental illness. It is a vital addition to a long list that raises public consciousness surrounding mental illness.” Susan Doherty, author of Ghost Garden, Inside the Lives of Schizophrenias Feared and Forgotten (PenguinRandomHouse 2019)

Table des matières

Table des matières
Still Crying for Help, The Failure of Our Mental Healthcare Services 1
Foreword. A Story of Therapeutic Failure 9
1. Deux-Montagnes, April 21, 2013 21
2. April 22, 2013: The First Day Without Ferid 29
3. April 24, 2013: The Day of Departure 32
4. Ferid: Before 34
5. Ignorance 43
6. Starting Over 56
7. First Signs 58
8. First Hospitalization 61
Twist of fate 72
9. Electroshock Treatment 75
Going off medication 79
10. Reality on the Ground 82
Health service blind spots 84
11. Home from the Hospital 86
Big pharma’s questionable practices 87
12. Road to Recovery or Dead-End? 90
13. Drug-Free Treatment 96
The Scandinavian and Finnish examples 100
14. Three Years of Remission 103
15. Zyprexa 107
The Zyprexa trial 108
Long-term use of antipsychotics 112
The responsibility of prescribing physicians 114
16. Schizophrenia 117
The toll on family 122
Difficult times 125
17. A Rich or an Impoverished Life? 131
18. Relapse 134
Isolated, lonely and exhausted 136
An exceptional degree of autonomy 139
The trip to Algeria 140
19. Ferid, aka Jesus Christ: A Second Psychotic Episode 142
Building on the person’s healthy side 146
20. Court Authorization for Treatment 150
“Free and enlightened” consent 152
A disregard for protocol 154
21. Meeting the Social Worker, or Autoposy of an Act of Sabotage 156
Hope: cornerstone to recovery 162
22. Other Options 166
Alternative treatment 168
23. Hope Fraught with Hazard 172
24. April 14, 2013: The Emergency Room 174
25. April 15, 2013 178
The link between suicide and schizophrenia 179
26. Life After Ferid 184
The link between prescription drugs and suicide 187
27. Fighting Fatalism 191
Abilify: a long list of side effects 192
28. Filing a Complaint: The Long Wait 195
Hope and happiness 197
29. Duty to Rescue 200
Meeting with the review committee 204
30. Ferid Ferkovic’s Story 207
31. Support Through Dignity 209
Acknowledgements 213
Notes 215
Foreword 215
8. First Hospitalization 216
4. Ferid: Before 216
5. Ignorance 216
9. Electroshock Treatment 217
10. Reality on the Ground 217
11. Home from the Hospital 217
12. Road to Recovery or Dead-End? 217
13. Drug-Free Treatment 218
14. Three Years of Remission 218
15. Zyprexa 218
18. Relapse 220
16. Schizophrenia 220
19. Ferid, aka Jesus Christ: A Second Psychotic Episode 221
20. Court Authorization for Treatment 221
21. Meeting the Social Worker, or Autoposy of an Act of Sabotage 221
22. Other Options 222
25. April 15, 2013 222
26. Life After Ferid 222
27. Fighting Fatalism 223
28. Filing a Complaint: The Long Wait 223
29. Duty to Rescue 223