Dr Suryani is not a name many of you out there would be familiar with, George Negus certainly wasn't until Dateline video journalist David O'Shea embarked on his report. We may never have heard of her, but there are plenty of families in
REPORTER: David O’Shea
This is the
VILLAGE CHIEF (Translation): He's been restrained continuously since the '90s. Before that we often restrained him - then let him go. We felt really sorry for him. He hasn't left here at all since 1990.
When he was free, he instilled fear in his neighbours.
WOMAN VILLAGER (Translation): He goes looking for women. He grabs them.
REPORTER (Translation): So there's nothing else you can do with him? No?
WOMAN VILLAGER (Translation): No.
It seems incredible that he could be left here like this for so long, but these people say it's their only option.
VILLAGE CHIEF (Translation): Time and again we took him to traditional healers and doctors without much effect. We were forced to restrain him.
REPORTER: Is money the problem?
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI: They don't have money and also because they are hopeless - nobody can help the patient.
The woman who has brought me here is Dr Luh Ketut Suryani. So what do you think should be done?
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI: Now we try to make them understand that if we help them we can help the patient become recover.
Dr Suryani is
REPORTER (Translation): Why do you have to be like this?
PUTU ANTASA (Translation): I forget – about this – I forget.
REPORTER (Translation): Have you been like this long?
PUTU ANTASA (Translation): Yes, I have.
On the last visit Suryani gave him an injection of antipsychotic medicine and he improved almost immediately. Now he wants to be set free.
REPORTER (Translation): You want to be in the house?
PUTU ANTASA (Translation): Yes.
REPORTER (Translation): But how will you...convince them?
PUTU ANTASA (Translation): The key. The key.
In fact, the family did free him after the last visit, but then he exploded, attacking his elderly aunt and knocking her unconscious. His relatives say they had no choice but to lock him up again.
PUTU ANTASA'S FATHER (Translation): I really love my child. I love my child. But he's destructive.
REPORTER (Translation): But they say if they let you go, you'll...
PUTU ANTASA: I'll go berserk? I won't. I won't go berserk. I did - once. I did, one time.
Dr Suryani hopes that another antipsychotic injection will do the trick.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): Once there's been some change, you can give him a mattress. If he doesn't burn it, try letting him go. OK?
Dr Lesmana is Dr Suryani's son. He has followed his mother's footsteps into psychiatry.
DR LESMANA (Translation): Stay here for now. When you get better, you can move inside. I have to go now, OK?
Dr Suryani and her son stumbled across Bali's hidden mentally ill while conducting research into the surprising increase in suicides after the
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): Close your eyes. Concentrate your attention on your nose. I'm taking you back to the past when you were a child.
She holds public meditation sessions in the capital Denpasar as part of her preventative mental health program. Suryani believes meditation strengthens the mind and soothes the soul. And the rousing sing-alongs are designed to make everyone feel happiness. It's all part of her unique approach to psychiatry. Dr Suryani is about to treat this man, Komang, another one of her mentally ill patients.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): Concentrate on your cerebral processes.
As part of her treatment for Komang, Dr Suryani has called in a traditional spiritual healer. Many here believe the root of mental illness lies in the supernatural, which Western medicine is unable to treat. The healer carries out a purification ceremony designed to compliment the regimen of antipsychotic drugs.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI: If I use only Western concepts, Balinese will not accept us. They will continue to go to healer. So if I can practice in
At one stage my camera gets a little too close to the purification. It's been a remarkable recovery for Komang when you see where he has come from. For 8 years he lived in a cage his father built for him.
KOMANG’S FATHER (Translation): It was unbelievable! He hit me, he assaulted me. I'm lucky to be alive. I can't believe this illness. It's so destructive.
REPORTER (Translation): Did you ever get out?
KOMANG (Translation): During those eight years I never got out. I stayed in the cage. In the cage they fed me three times a day. Then they washed me, and I went to sleep.
REPORTER (Translation): Why do you think you had to be in the cage?
KOMANG (Translation): Because I kept wandering off.
Komang shared his cage with his younger brother, who is also mentally ill. He too has now been released.
KOMANG’S BROTHER (Translation): We were bad... We were bad.
REPORTER (Translation): In what way?
KOMANG’S BROTHER (Translation): We made trouble. We annoyed people.
The family say it was a last resort as they didn't have the money for treatment.
KOMANG’S FATHER (Translation): I still regret it. I wonder why I put him in a cage. I wouldn't put him in a cage again.
DR LESMANA: This is for the bed.
REPORTER: The bed in the cage?
DR LESMANA: Yes, it is.
Dr Lesmana says Komang's father was acting on advice from someone at
DR LESMANA: He got an idea from the mental institution that said "Maybe better you just lock your son up to make you feel safe and to make the community also feel safe."
This is Bangli, the island's only mental hospital. It has a capacity of 340 patients, but only limited places for poor people. Staff here know Komang's case and insist his father is mistaken and that they never advise people to restrain the mentally ill.
HOSPITAL STAFF (Translation): The parent might think that. He's drawn that conclusion. But we have never recommended that patients be confined. That has never happened. No, chaining people is forbidden. We rescue people who've been confined.
REPORTER (Translation): If there is help from the government... Why are people still chained?
HOSPITAL STAFF (Translation): There are many reasons why they're still chained. People may be reluctant to bring them here, to pay the cost of transporting them here. Then there is the belief among patients' families that treatment will not change the patient's condition.
REPORTER (Translation): Do you understand why your parents did it?
KOMANG (Translation): Yes.
REPORTER (Translation): You accept it?
KOMANG (Translation): Yes.
REPORTER (Translation): You're not angry or upset?
KOMANG (Translation): No.
Since being let out eight months ago, Komang has improved so much he has even got married - not that his wife was told of his condition, before the wedding.
REPORTER: Would you have married him if you knew he'd been living in a cage for eight years?
KOMANG’S WIFE (Translation): Maybe not.
Komang still has to take expensive medications.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): We can give him more Zeldox. What have we got?
DR LESMANA (Translation): We have 40 mg and 80 mg.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): Give him 40. Give him this first... And write it down.
Suryani pays for the medicine out of her own pocket with help from donations from
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): Is the doctor in?
WOMAN (Translation): Yes, he is.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): Right... I'm Professor Suryani.
She wants to get more government assistance for the region's mentally ill.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): We've seen the situation in the field. And while I'm here I'd like to ask if we can work together, our group and the Health Service.
Thanks to Suryani's lobbying, the government has recently pledged funds for her program in the east of the island but the money hasn't come through yet and getting officials onside is a struggle.
DR MADE PUSAKA, MINISTER OF HEALTH (Translation): We have a limited budget for drugs. If they're in the budget, okay. But any drugs not included... I'm sorry, we can't afford it. I don't know what to do. Those drugs are expensive. If we buy them, it will affect our basic services.
I find it astonishing in an island awash with tourist dollars that more money can't be set aside for mental health. This is Suryani's first visit to this man, Gusti. Although he is reciting stories from the epic Hindu tale, the Mahabharata, when he's free, he damages the local Hindu temples and steals from homes. So, for the past six years, he's been chained here.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): Do you often feel tired?
GUSTI PUTU UTARA (Translation): Yes I do. I sleep a lot.
I am surprised to discover that he speaks English.
GUSTI PUTU UTARA: My story to this house is... I help building my father when he lived here from the bottom until the roof.
REPORTER: So you helped build the house?
GUSTI PUTU UTARA Yes.
He asks Suryani for some basic necessities.
GUSTI PUTU UTARA (Translation): A toothbrush, a toothbrush. It's hard to communicate with the people around here. A toothbrush, toothpaste. and... soap.
Professor Suryani is convinced that Gusti will respond well to the medicine but she needs the approval of the family, and they're not keen.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): The drugs are expensive. And actually, it's expensive for us to come here. But for his sake... He's still a fine young man. He could be a useful citizen. Why don't you give your permission? Our service is free.
She then tries to convince Gusti's eldest brother.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): He's self-aware. Don't you feel sorry for your brother? You can talk to him normally. It's just that his mental processes are disturbed.
The family are still reluctant and Suryani decides to ramp up the pressure.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation) If you leave him there, I'll report you to the police. Leaving a sick person untreated is an offence. We've come here to help. So if you leave him there, we'll go to the police, because you've left someone chained up. That violates human rights.
They finally relent and Gusti is readied for the injection.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): Oh, we won't free him yet. I wouldn't dare. Thank you, sir.
Time and again Suryani struggles with families who are initially suspicious of her work. But at our next house call, I meet one of her successes, Nengah Sri. Until recently, she was chained up behind this house.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI (Translation): How are you? You're looking great. You're better?
The first time Suryani's team visited her two years ago, they shot this footage. It shows just how much Nengah has improved since the medication. Now with all her faculties back she's embarrassed at the memory.
Suryani is convinced her patient is better when she refuses to sing again.
REPORTER (Translation): You won't do it now? What songs do you know?
REPORTER (Translation): You weren't embarrassed then?
There's no use any more for the chain and Suryani is over the moon with the progress. The whole team is delighted as the value of their work sinks in.
DR LUH KETUT SURYANI: This makes us have energy to help the other patients.
DR LESMANA: The change is so dramatic. It's like she had never been in that situation not having a disorder, maybe. So it's very surprising and incredible, really incredible.
REPORTER: It makes you feel pretty good?
DR LESMANA: Yes, really good, and really proud.
GEORGE NEGUS: And they say we don't do happy-ending stories. And Dr Suryani tells us that since David's visit to Gusti, the man who was singing those Hindu songs, he has apparently improved enough to be set free. And he's even decided to cut those fingernails of his.
Translations / Subtitling
Original Music composed by
Additional Footage - Dr. Cokorda Bagus Jaya Lesmana