Cork mother whose husband and daughters died in murder suicide pleads for changes to Mental Health Act

Ms Butler who is from Ballycotton, Co Cork has spent over a decade campaigning for changes in the care of vulnerable persons.
Cork mother whose husband and daughters died in murder suicide pleads for changes to Mental Health Act

Una Butler, Ballycotton, Co. Cork. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

A mother whose husband and two daughters died in a murder suicide case has called for changes to be made to the Mental Health Act to allow a partner or spouse to be involved in the treatment of a family member suffering with their mental health especially if children live in a household.

Una Butler's husband John killed their young girls Ella (6) and Zoe (2) on November 16, 2010. John Butler (41) then ended his own life.

Ms Butler who is from Ballycotton, Co Cork has spent over a decade campaigning for changes in the care of vulnerable persons.

In an interview on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1, Ms Butler said that she was tired of "banging on doors" trying to get change implemented in relation to mental health.

"I believe looking back on it that, had I been involved in the treatment of my husband, that the medical professionals would have had a greater insight into his behaviours.

"I felt he was treated in isolation as if he lived alone. Why is it [mental health] treated differently to somebody that breaks a leg?

"The year before he killed Zoe and Ella he was having treatment for his mental health. I had two small children. I left everything up to the medical professionals and let them treat him.

"I believe the health professionals solely relied on what my husband told them. I would have given them a different insight into his behaviours at home.

"No consideration is given to the environmental surroundings of a person that suffers from their mental health. Where was the welfare of my children?"

Ms Butler said that it is vital that spouses or partners be involved in the treatment of the family member suffering with their mental health in order to help to prevent further cases of filicide from occurring.

Ms Butler said that doctors do not have to disclose any information to that partner unless it's part of medical counsel.

"I do believe that if the person suffering allows the person to go to these meetings with them that is great. But also the person living with the person suffering is educated on how best to support the patient.

"I believe children are disregarded [in these situations]."

Ms Butler has met several ministers of health over the years to no avail.

She added that it comes down to a lack of resources and that is "not good enough when innocent children are being murdered by parents".

Meanwhile, in an interview on Cork's Red FM last Butler Ms Butler said she saw no sign of risk prior to the tragedy.

"John was a good person. It was very difficult living with John when he was suffering with his mental health. He was a good father. He was very kind," Ms Butler said.

"I do believe that if I had been involved in the treatment the medical professionals would have gained greater insight.

"I have great support from my family and friends. It is a nightmare to live with what I have to live with. I do believe Zoe and Ella [would be] alive today if I had been included in John's treatment.

"You learn to live with what has happened. It is not that it gets any easier. It is the cruellest thing on earth to happen.

"I believe their [her children's] energy surrounds me all the time. That is all I can do. What choice do I have?

"Trying to prevent other cases [of silicide] from happening helps me as well."

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