Tuesday 30 August 2016

Stigma nation: behind closed doors

Following on from the horrific, tragic and almost unimaginable events that unfolded in Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan, I have been circulating my new Facebook cover photo (done up in like 5 minutes using online software, so please, steal away. I don't want any ownership rights to this image if we can all simply help in getting the word out to those who need it). As a voluntary organisation it can be hard to promote such facilities -suicide is a touchy subject, not really something spoken of or asked about in many everyday occasions. As a volunteer for this organisation I've had a lot of people ask, "what exactly do SOSAD do?". Some hear the terms like "suicide prevention", "suicide intervention", but they don't quite know what services that entails. Each office has its own projects, but the general resources that we all provide are listed in this cover picture. Along with all the contact information for each office. If you would like the full size of this image to use as Facebook cover photo (this one is condensed), please mail me via my Facebook page.

If you are struggling, need help and even if you don't live near any of our offices, please ring the nearest phone number to you and one of the volunteers will assist you in any way possible. Please, ring us. Ring anyone. If you are on long HSE waiting lists to see someone, come see one of our trained and free counselors instead. If counselling isn't for you or you are unsure, just ring us for a casual chat over the phone... No one should fall through the gaps of the health service, no one should feel help isn't out there. But we need assistance with getting the word out that organisations like this exist, so please do share the numbers. To help further support this cause consider liking the SOSAD Facebook pages, which really only take a second and provides a basis for free promotion that is so desperately needed:

SOSAD Ireland
SOSAD Dundalk
SOSAD Carrickmacross
SOSAD Tullamore
SOSAD Events

And see their website here: SOSAD Ireland website

But lets take a step back -suicide and mental health are very much only one element to this confusing, saddening scenario. Murder, possible long-term abuse, communities and families devastated by the complete shock... No warning signs, no clues as to what went on prior to this day. And perhaps the family and friends will never have answers; a tragedy within a tragedy. So here we are with two sides of the rationale forming within Irish communities.

Number one is that this man must have been incredibly mentally ill, he must have been in some ways depressed, completely out of his mind, whatever terminology we may individually use. There clearly was a mental health element... But how much? Does it matter now? Does that excuse killing his own family? Of course not. But the history of such a stigma within Irish society has done no one any favours ever, and so the issue of this stigma is raised again. Secondly we have those who go one step further and of course, wish not to be associated in any way, shape or form with a man who can kill his family. Those who have either suffered from some form of mental illness themselves in the past, those living through it, and simply those who have had a loved one experience such ailments. No one wants to be looked upon as a possible murderer... But again, it all comes down to stigma. To assumptions.

I would like to think people can tell the difference between their friends and family having depression, social anxiety, general breakdowns/ any kind and such episodes to something this extreme. No matter what his mental illness or reasons, everyone who is unwell in that way is so, sooo different, like with anything else in life. Like with physical health, for example. You don't simply say "I have a physical health problem". That would be ridiculous. Mental health is just as complex and no two people are the same -even if in diagnoses, treatment differs. Again, similar with physical health. I hope people can see that. It's also worth pointing out that you can have "mental health issues" and still be a complete asshole. Likewise if you can have/ have had issues and are the most amazing, caring person in the world -as many are.

The state of his mind is very much only part of his personality, and this is true for everyone. I hope the majority of people do realise this. This is s very extreme case and not the norm for people who suffer with depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts... He is still a killer, and that's entirely on him and no one else. I don't know the man and have no idea of his health, but I can understand the view of sufferers who feel they may be tarnished for his doings because the media has highlighted the term "mental health illness".

While the events that unfolded on that day and even prior to that day may never be known, the victims in this case are blatantly obvious for all to see... If you are a woman in fear for your life, please get in touch with Women's Aid. If there are any warning signs of anger, any hints that something is amiss in his attitude, unsettling changes, or blatant, obvious risks to you and/ or your children, please don't be hesitant in calling Women's Aid. Don't feel that your neighbours, society, family will judge you. Push all that aside for now. Just ring. Just get out. With that in mind I'm also sharing this tweet from The Women's Council of Ireland, who reminded us of the other element to this tragic tail.

I'm going to also drop in this article from The Irish Times to note that this type of murder isn't new. It's just perhaps highly unspoken of; yet again another taboo subject in Irish society.

And also this opinion piece by blogger Linnea Dunne -there's currently many articles written like it, all with the same important message about this forgotten woman.

I think a lot of it boils down to not seeing many photos of her after the events. I assumed she must have a very private Facebook and other social media accounts, maybe she has absolutely no social media accounts or online presence. And people unfortunately associate the photos with making the people seem "real", as with the photos of the children... One popped up, just one (that I saw so far anyway, I purposely looked out for her face, angry to only find his everywhere).

Surely she has friends and family who have photos and can say "this is her, this the victim. The person we loved who is now gone, but who mattered and should be remembered". If approached in a respectful way they may have easily handed over a very much loved photo of their dear friend/ family membercolleague. People may say this as the media being tactful, not asking for photos and respecting those who are grieving -not wanting to upset anyone. Absolute bull, when have they ever conducted themselves in this manner? The media could have gotten a photo if they had wished... They could have tried -in this day and age, they could have easily succeeded. People would want her to be remembered. Like many of you out there, it's angering me very much to see his face plastered everywhere instead of hers....

But even without photos, she was a real person and she matters. So here she is, the one and only photo I could find of Clodagh... 


These views are my own and only my own, and are not representative of any of the organisations mentioned in the article. Main images are mine but as stated, please feel free to use the Facebook cover -contact me using my social media links for correct file size if required for use as a Facebook cover. For other image usage, please contact me directly to inquire. Women's Aid own the rights to their tweets and the image is a screenshot of such. The photo of Clodagh, the one and only photo, has been circulating between various news agencies and so cannot cite original source -If you know of ownership, please notify me so I can give credit.

1 comment:

  1. Such a sad and disturbing case. What annoys me is this; This man murdered his family and nobody ever expected anything like this from him. So let's say, people were aware of this man's mental health state, would anybody have been able to prevent this from happening? I'm just not sure. One question that are on people's minds is, was this a case of 'nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors'. Was he a bully to his family? I know of a young woman with 3 young children who separated from her husband because she could no longer take the mental torture & physical abuse from him. He left her unconscious one day and walked out the door leaving the children with their battered mother lying on the floor. Her family never knew a thing about it until she left him. To the outside world he was charming and sweet as pie!! She had to leave for the safety of herself and the children. Now here's the thing, he has access to those children, he's allowed to take them for weekends. Hello??? I don't give a crap about his rights as a father, he lost his rights when he beat his beautiful young timid wife..... The mother of his children..... And left her unconscious. She lives in fear of him and lives in fear that some day he will some day greatly harm her children. Yes thank God she left him and you're right when you urge every woman in similar circumstances to do the same. But what happens after the break up? I'm only commenting anonymously because of the woman I'm talking about here.