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Asylum in search for 'lost souls' relatives

THE MENTAL hospital where 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' was filmed is attempting to identify the cremated remains of 3,500 of its former patients, which were left on shelves in a secluded storage area for several decades.

Families of 120 people have so far come forward to claim small copper canisters containing the ashes of their ancestors. The remains were discovered in 2004, when a group of politicians touring Oregon State Hospital stumbled across the so-called "room of forgotten souls".

Officials at the hospital, which was built in Salem 128 years ago, this week launched an online database which aims to identify the descendants of patients who died there between 1914 and the 1970s, the period when fresh remains were being added to the storage room.


They used records to establish the names of the men and women contained in all but four of the canisters.

Over the years, Oregon State Hospital has been the focus of occasional soul-searching over the treatment of the tens of thousands of patients committed to psychiatric facilities across the US. Attention was first drawn to its decrepit wards, in which inmates were kept behind bars like common criminals, when 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 'was released in 1975. The film, starring Jack Nicholson, won several Oscars and sparked conversation about mental health treatment. (©Independent News Service)

Irish Independent