A woman whose husband took his own life after he killed their two daughters has called for changes in the way mental health patients are treated.
Una Butler from Ballycotton in Co Cork wants mandatory risk assessments to be conducted on the families and children of mental health patients.
She also wants the Mental Health Act to be changed to require medical personnel to involve the partners and families of mental health patients in their treatment.
In November 2010, John Butler killed six-year-old Zoe and two-year-old Ella at their home, before killing himself in his car a short distance away.
Mr Butler had been suffering from depression, for which he had received psychiatric treatment.
The 2001 Mental Health Act governs the treatment of patients with mental illness and the legislation is currently being reviewed.
An expert group appointed to review the Mental Health Act is due to issue its report by March of next year.
Minister of State with responsibility for mental health Kathleen Lynch said she has asked the expert group to examine calls by Ms Butler for changes to the law.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Lynch said she has forwarded all correspondence from Ms Butler to the expert group and to the Mental Health Commission.
The minister said she has met Ms Butler twice and was impressed by her obvious strength and determination that others will not suffer in the way she did.
She said she was not certain that you can put into law how clinicians treat people that come to them, and that it was a difficult area that may have to be dealt with by way of guidelines.
However, she pledged to listen to the recommendations of the expert group. Helplines
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I am sure a lot of people have being effected by depression or suicide in some way,shape or form in the past.
Has the state left families down over the years or are families being vigilant enough?
( If there is already a topic on this then sorry, and maybe it can be copied & pasted into it )
I heard her on the radio this morning and to be honest I found it hard to agree with the changes she was looking for.
She wanted anyone who presented themselves to a GP with symptoms of depression/mental illness to be asked if they had children, if the answer was yes, then people would be sent to the house to conduct an assesment on if there was any risk to the children.
Surely that would be a massive turn off to anyone who was struggling with depression to going to seek out help?
I know of a parent who tried to commit suicide on more than one occasion a few years ago Runt, there were small children in the family badly affected by it and not once were they checked in on. In that instance i think Una Butler has a point.
Yes obviously there are cases where children should be checked on, but if it were mandetory that the HSE be sent to your house once you report a mental illness then I definitely think it would discourage people from seeking help.
Yes obviously there are cases where children should be checked on, but if it were mandetory that the HSE be sent to your house once you report a mental illness then I definitely think it would discourage people from seeking help.[/quote]
I’d agree with Runt here though it’s a very tough issue to balance. Seeking help is a huge step for anyone suffering from depression, if it were mandatory(in the case of someone with children) to assess the family situation, it would act as a serious turn-off.
Doctor I’ve finally worked up the courage to ask for help.
No problem pal but first we need to send social services and the gardai around to your house as you are obviously a serious risk to your children.
Nobody would ever go looking for help again. We need to make this less of a taboo and easier for people to seek help not treat them like fucking criminals. That lady has been through an horrific time but that is certainly not the answer.
Not sure what you can do in these situations mate. These people are more than suicidal if they are killing thier children without wanting to be too blunt about it. Would anybody treating them(if they are getting treatment) suspect that they are a serious risk to their children? It certainly can’t be the default mode when dealing with people with mental health issues to treat them as potential murderers on the back of actions of barely a handful of people. There are thousands of people in Ireland suffering from depression who are no risk at all to others.