In the past few months or so, we have had to contend with disturbing news stories bordering on clearly mental challenges.
When a man murders his mother and a house-help simultaneously, gruesomely, we are left with no option but to impugn a mental challenge. Such occurrences; had those living with the person been observant and ready to tackle the bull by the horn, could have been prevented.
We are no psychiatrists but can state that in most of the cases of murder by persons with mental challenges, perpetrators show ample telltale signals long before the bloody deeds are enacted.
It is only when the irreversible deed is committed that people begin to recall telltale signs which they saw and ignored.
Psychiatric cases in our part of the world are handled unlike other health challenges: families dreading the repercussions of admitting that patients need psychiatric attention would rather live in denial. In some cases, witchcraft is alluded to and patients sent to prayer camps where they are chained; their conditions even worsening with no sign of recovery.
The case which triggered this commentary exhibited evidence of a patient requiring attention. A landlord had cause to call the attention of the murdered woman to the fact that her son needed attention because he was behaving abnormally.
She pleaded to have the status quo hold unknowing that she was living in a dangerous denial. In the end, she was murdered in cold blood; her house-help suffering a similar fate.
The need for massive education about mental health and how to look out for danger signs cannot be ignored indefinitely, as the cost of this indifference is proving too costly to families in particular and the country in general.
Mental illness like any other health challenge requires attention at a psychiatric hospital something which we all must understand and avoid the unhelpful denial in which we tend to live in when family members show signs of this. We have ignored this for far too long and it has become costly, wreaking pain and grief.
That was not the first time and the most gruesome murder bordering on mental ailment ignorance. One occurred earlier in the year and claimed many lives from the same family in the most gruesome fashion. In that case too, the perpetrator showed telltale signs but nobody really cared.
We should all start being our brothers’ keepers. In the case of the man who killed his mother and house-help, the caretaker was not oblivious to the signs but because the murdered woman pleaded with him to have her son continue to live in the house, she succumbed and paid the ultimate prize for what was an obvious costly denial.
When persons we live with suddenly withdraw from society, becoming somewhat recluses or even laughing unusually, becoming filthy and behaving weirdly contrary to what they have been until now, something is definitely wrong.
These incidences should serve as lessons to all of us: we must understand the dangers posed by mental challenges and to respond accordingly when these signs manifest.
We appreciate the obstacles in seeking attention when mental ailment visits others or ourselves: the psychiatric hospitals are not receiving the necessary attention from government and have in recent times become caricatures of themselves.
They have had to stop admitting fresh patients and with the economy-induced stress, many more mental challenges would be recorded. Be it as it may, when telltale signs manifest, patients should be moved immediately to the mental hospital for attention and treatment to obviate bloody and regrettable outcomes.