Tuesday 20 March 2018

'Zoe and Ella would be alive if I'd been involved in husband's care'

Campaigner: Una Butler. Photo: Oisin McHugh
Campaigner: Una Butler. Photo: Oisin McHugh

David Raleigh

A mother whose daughters were killed by her husband in a murder-suicide believes they would be alive today if she had been involved in his mental health treatment.

John Butler, who had been receiving treatment for depression, took his own life after he killed daughters Ella (2) and Zoe (6) in the family home.

Speaking at a symposium on media coverage of mental health stories at the University of Limerick, Una Butler called for accurate and sensitive reporting of murder-suicide cases.

"I can understand that people just cannot comprehend or don't want to read about it and that is why it is so important that when murder-suicide cases are being reported on that it should be reported accurately and in a sensitive manner - no sensationalising, no glamorising of the events," Ms Butler said.

"People and society have a right to know how often these cases are happening."

Ms Butler has advocated for reform of the Mental Health Act since the tragic deaths of her family in Ballycotton, Co Cork, on November 16, 2010.

Read more: Mother who lost two daughters and husband in tragedy: 'I believe the healthcare professionals have got this wrong'

She believes her children would "still be alive" had she been involved in her husband's treatment - and said she "turned to the media" in seeking a detailed investigation.

She said: "Why is a person treated in isolation?

"They're not living in isolation, and the family are there to support them."

She added: "I believe Zoe and Ella would be alive today.

"My husband (had) never hurt me; he was suffering with a psychiatric illness.

"I believe had I been involved in his treatment...he may have been treated differently.

"I should have been educated about his illness."

Irish Independent

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