Pete Shaughnessy

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Peter Anthony "Pete" Shaughnessy (16 September 1962 – 15 December 2002) was an English mental health activist and one of the founders of Mad Pride, a group of mental health activists who reclaimed terms such as 'mad' and 'nutter' from misuse, and campaigned for the rights of the mentally ill.

Shaughnessy was born in South London and worked in a children's home and then as a carer for people with disabilities, before becoming a bus driver.[1] It was during the course of this work that in April 1992 his spiral into mental illness began. After coming to the aid of a conductor who was being assaulted, Shaughnessy was hit with an iron bar. Shortly afterwards he went on a silent hunger strike outside his bus garage in protest at the privatisation of the service, which was leading to more work for less pay. By the end of the year he was hospitalised.[1]

Later, he threw himself into mental health activism and Mad Pride with fellow leading activists Robert Dellar and Simon Barnett. According to Phil Barker, the UK's first Professor of Psychiatric Nursing Practice, "His campaigning and direct actions helped push the government on to the back foot over their plans for forced drug treatment for the mentally ill in the community. He fought against the stigma surrounding mental illness with passion, compassion and humour."[2][3]

On 15 December 2002, Shaughnessy committed suicide by stepping in front of a train at Battersea Park railway station.[4]

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