Sunday 18 March 2018

Mother who lost three boys urges disclosure of mental treatment

Thomas and Helen O'Driscoll at the inquest into their sons' deaths, at Mallow Court Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Thomas and Helen O'Driscoll at the inquest into their sons' deaths, at Mallow Court Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A mother who lost three sons to a horrific murder-suicide has called for changes to medical confidentiality rules.

Helen O'Driscoll believes parents have the right to know about the detailed mental health problems of adult children still resident at home.

Her plea came as details emerged of the triple tragedy last September 4 when her eldest son Jonathan (21) launched a frenzied knife attack on his nine-year old twin brothers.

Patrick 'Paddy' and Thomas 'Tom Tom' died at the family's Deerpark home in Charleville, Co Cork.

Ms O'Driscoll revealed she did not know the scale of her adopted son's mental health struggles.

Because he was an adult, his medical details were private and confidential.

"If adult children are staying with their parents, I think their parents have the right to know if they are suffering with some sort of a (mental health) problem," said Ms O'Driscoll.

"At least the parents can be aware of that and they know to look out more clearly for what is going on.

"If you don't know what the problem is or what medication they are taking, you don't know what is going to happen day to day.

"I think the family, and particularly the parents, have a right to know if the adult child is living at home."

Jonathan had stopped taking his medication several days before the tragedy.

Ms O'Driscoll told the Irish Independent she was "totally shocked" by the number of medications Jonathan was on.

"I found a lot of tablets after Jonathan had passed away, God speed him. He seemed to be on a lot of tablets. But his inquest heard that it was reckoned he hadn't taken any medication at all for about a week before it happened."

Each twin suffered more than 40 stab wounds in the unprovoked attack, which happened shortly after Jonathan had collected them from school.

The boys' parents were away that day buying a miniature caravan for the twins' birthday in November.

Minutes after stabbing the twins, Jonathan drove to an isolated forest outside Buttevant, some 20km away, and took his own life.

He left five notes, three of which were found on his body and in his car, the contents of which Cork coroner Dr Michael Kennedy described as "quite disturbed and quite disturbing".

It emerged that Jonathan had a history of mental health problems, including paranoia, depression and psychosis.

However, he had never exhibited any homicidal inclinations.

Ms O'Driscoll's plea echoed previous calls from other families who have lost loved ones.

Since 2000, there have been more than 30 such cases in Ireland, with more than 40 children dying, one of the highest rates in the world.

Irish Independent

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