Life Mental Health

Friday 19 September 2014

Tragic Una: if only medics had listened to my side of the story

Published 09/10/2013 | 05:00

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Una Butler
No more normal: This week Una Butler lost her young daughters Ella, and Zoe.
Una Butler lost her young daughters Ella, and Zoe.
Una Butler (second left) is supported by her mother as she follows the coffins of her daughters Ella and Zoe at their funeral Mass in Ballycotton, Co Cork, yesterday. CLARE KEOGH/PROVISION
Una Butler (second left) is supported by her mother as she follows the coffins of her daughters Ella and Zoe at their funeral Mass in Ballycotton, Co Cork, yesterday. CLARE KEOGH/PROVISION

A MOTHER whose two daughters were murdered by their depressed father before he took his own life has said the medical profession might have treated him differently had they heard her side of the story.

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As the third anniversary of the deaths of Zoe (6) and Ella (2) approaches, their mother Una Butler (pictured), from Ballycotton, Co Cork, said there was still an "air of unreality" about her "living nightmare".

Her husband John was being treated for depression when he killed his daughters, doused himself in petrol and crashed his car on November 16, 2010.

Speaking on TV3's 'Ireland AM', Mrs Butler said, since 2000, 38 Irish children have been murdered by their parents.

"The welfare of children is paramount. When somebody presents themselves to the doctors with a mental illness . . . if there are children living under the same roof, there should be a risk assessment," she said.

"The medical profession might have treated John differently having heard my side of the story . . . so they'd have a greater insight into his behaviours at home, because I don't believe that he'd have told them everything," she added.

Mrs Butler said it was very hard living without Zoe and Ella. "Sometimes I just think I'm floating from day to day. I believe my little girls are with me. Zoe and Ella are always with me, carrying me through," she said.

Meanwhile, suicide prevention charity Console has announced details of a new training programme to teach people how to recognise the warning signs that a person is contemplating suicide.

Chief executive Paul Kelly likened the QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) programme to CPR.

"Just as people trained in CPR help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognise the warning signs of a suicide crisis," he explained.

The one-day course , which is aimed at everyone from parents, friends and teachers to work colleagues, gardai and health professionals, takes place at a number of locations over the coming weeks, including Dublin, Letterkenny, Tralee and Athlone.

Details can be found at www.console.ie or by calling 01 6102638.

Irish Independent

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