The War At Home



The Hawe family home in Barconey, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan

Apart from one previous killing in the 1980s, the phenomenon of murder-suicides by parents in Ireland/Northern Ireland appears to have started around 2000.

There have been 24 incidents of completed or attempted filicide-suicides in the island of Ireland since the turn of the century. On average, there are only seven such cases a year in the United Kingdom.

So, why is this happening?

Unfortunately, because of the way in which filicide-suicide is currently dealt with it, it is almost certain that reported accounts are less complete than in the case of other crimes.

The inquest system – which is designed to focus on the cause of death of a victim rather than the motivation of a perpetrator – does not provide an adequate method of exploring the causes of filicide-suicide.

This is exacerbated by the fact that, due to the death of the perpetrator, such crimes are rarely followed by any criminal trial.

Much of the reporting and inquest proceedings involves the paying of tribute and sympathy to victims and perpetrators.

Media sensitivity and concern for surviving family members of the deceased also results in light reporting of the background to such crimes.

Overleaf, we have compiled all available information on each incident and, despite the lack of rigour in reporting these cases, some factors are notable..

The dramatic increase in filicide-suicide appears to largely coincide with an increase in the use of anti-depresssants.

Although in many cases the medical history of the perpetrators is not fully detailed, it appears that a number of the perpetrators had either recently commenced or ceased taking such medication.

A question arises as to whether or not this may have resulted in an extreme response to stresses, which might not otherwise have occurred.

The vast majority of the perpetrators were well regarded and integrated into the local community in which they lived. Most lived in rural areas and were active members of local GAA clubs and the local Catholic Church.

Something which may need to be considered is to what extent past sexual abuse of the perpetrators may be contributing to filicide-suicide in Ireland.

As with the role of anti-depressants, this is an issue which – although referenced in at least one of the cases listed – has been largely unexplored in coverage of these killings.

Without full State reports into all cases of filicide-suicides, it is not possible to ascertain what exactly is causing these crimes and take steps to prevent them occurring in future.

Such reports, which are mandatory in the United Kingdom in all cases of murder-suicides within 12 months of someone having dealt with mental health services, would not only provide information which would be of assistance in preventing future crimes but would also help the surviving family members of the deceased in understanding why exactly such crimes occurred.

Ironically, as illustrated by at least one of the cases referenced below, without a proper consideration of such crimes, these family members may not only be left without comprehension as to how such crimes occurred but may even become a target for gossip and misstatement in their local communities.

We will correct any errors.

March 5, 2000 Catherine Palmer (nee O’Sullivan) (36), of Galway, drowned herself and her two daughters, Jennifer (9) and Louisa (6), by driving off the pier at Kinvara Bay, Galway.

Mrs Palmer left a note with the words “This is hell” – written nine times over. The additional words “[a] disgusting waste of two beautiful girls – two human beings” were written on the reverse.

The previous year, Mrs Palmer had developed a belief she was terminally ill, facing a horrible death and had infected her children. She had been admitted to a psychiatric unit at University College Hospital, Galway, and kept there for a week, but was subsequently released without any system having been put in place for monitoring her condition and how she progressed.

No further details of Ms Palmer’s background were given and it has not been reported whether or not she was on anti-depressants at the time of her death.

Her husband, Roy Palmer, a scientist and fish pathologist at NUI Galway, was subsequently awarded €110,000 and costs in settlement of his action against Professor Thomas Fahy, the former head of the unit, in a civil action for negligence.

In a joint statement with the O’Sullivan family, Mr Palmer stated that, in addition to their grief, family and friends had had a long struggle to make known what led to the deaths and that it was unacceptable there was no mandatory full inquiry into such deaths.

December 7, 2000 Michael Burke (51), of Dublin, drowned himself and his daughter Miriam (9) by driving off the pier at Howth, Dublin.

At the inquest, it was stated that Mr Burke had been anxious about money and worried about the future. Social worker visits had been organised for him. He had kept the first appointment to see a social worker, but didn’t turn up for any more.

No details of Mr Burke’s background are reported other than the fact that he was a fisherman by trade and that there were a number of prescription drugs in his system at the time of his death. It was not reported whether or not these prescription drugs were anti-depressants.

March 3, 2001 Stephen Byrne (40), of Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny, stabbed his wife Maeve to death before drowning himself and his two sons, Alan (10) and Shane (6), by driving off Duncannon Pier, Wexford.

The stabbing of Mrs Byrne occurred at the family home. It was subsequently reported that Mrs Byrne had been having an affair with a local man, and that Mr Byrne had gone home that evening to confront her about the affair.

At the inquest, it was stated that Mr Byrne had spoken to his brother Paul by phone at 8.30pm and that later that evening, between 10 and 10.45pm, an internet search had been carried out from the family home for holiday phone numbers.

Mr Byrne was a keen fisherman and regularly fished at Duncannon Pier. He was described by the harbourmaster there as “a total gentleman” and “so honourable.”

No further details are reported of Mr Byrne’s background or medical history, nor was it stated whether he was on anti-depressants at the time of the deaths.

Mr Byrne’s brother Paul suffered further tragedy when his partner Christine Quinn was murdered in Kilkenny city the following year. An 18 year-old youth, a friend of her son’s, subsequently pleaded guilty to her murder.


The Fox family

27-28 July, 2001 Gregory Fox (36), of Castledaly, Co Westmeath,beat his wife Debbie to death and killed his sons, Killian (7) and Trevor (9), by stabbing them before attempting to kill himself.

Mrs Fox was killed in the kitchen of the family home and the two boys were stabbed 47 times in their beds upstairs. One of them had defensive wounds.

Mr Fox pleaded guilty to murder, and was given three life sentences. A confession to Gardai, read out at his trial, stated that earlier on the day of the murder Mrs Fox had told him she was leaving him for another man and taking the children with her.

According to Mr Fox:

“I loved the three of them. I loved my wife. She didn’t love me. She was going to leave. I pleaded with her not to go. I only killed the kids because I didn’t want them to wake up in the morning and find her dead.”

In a further written statement read out in court, by his defence counsel Patrick Gageby SC, Mr Fox said he took full responsibility for the killings and apologised to his and Debbie’s families.

“I feel I have caused enough pain to my family and my wife’s family and I do not wish to put everyone through the ordeal of a trial,” he said. “I never set out with the intention of harming my wife or children, but the cataclysmic effect of the sudden collapse of my relationship with my wife brought on events and acts on my part which I never thought I would be capable of.”

The Foxes were proprietors of a small shop and filling station. The family was originally from Dublin and had moved to Castledaly only a year and a half previously. Mr Fox had previously worked as a travelling salesman.

There are no further reports of Mr Fox’s background or medical history, nor is it stated whether he was on anti-depressants at the time of the deaths.

August 30, 2001 Christopher Crowley shot his daughter, Deirdre (6), and himself at Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

Mr Crowley had abducted Deirdre from her mother Christine two years previously and had been in hiding with her since. The shooting occurred when Gardai discovered the hideaway.

Mr Crowley, a former maths teacher, had separated from Christine in 1998. At the time of her abduction, there was a custody dispute in being in respect of Deirdre.

According to his wife, Christopher had enjoyed a reputation as “a fine decent character. . . a quiet, hardworking, willing, salt-of-the-earth great guy”.

A decade and a half previously, Crowley, a maths teacher at the Loreto convent, Fermoy, had had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student, Regina Nelligan, which began during a school trip to Paris and lasted until after she completed her Leaving Certificate.

Nelligan and Crowley made contact again following his separation from Christine and she was subsequently found guilty of assisting in Deirdre’s abduction.

There are no further reports of Mr Crowley’s background or medical history.

November, 2001 George McGloin, originally from Canada, stabbed his daughter, Robyn (2), to death before also killing himself by stabbing.

The stabbing occurred at the home of Robyn’s mother, Ms Lorraine Leahy, who had separated from him shortly after Robyn’s birth. Mr McGloin had arrived at Ms Leahy’s house earlier that day for his regular visit with Robyn. Ms Leahy left him in the house, and went out.

Some hours later, she received a call on her mobile phone asking her to return. On opening the front door, she was punched by Mr McGloin and fell to the ground. Mr McGloin then got a poker, lifted Robyn’s dress and started poking her in the stomach.

When Ms Leahy ran into the kitchen for a knife, he struck her with the poker on the back of the head. She saw blood on Robyn and ran for help. When neighbours entered the house, both McGloin and Robyn were dead, having been stabbed with the same knife.

At the time of the murder, McGloin, who had had a previous family in Canada, was working as a medical technician in Limerick. According to a neighbour, Ms Colette Cooke, Mr McGloin “was always real nice and pleasant. There wasn’t anything about him that would give you concern”.

No further details of Mr McCloin’s background or medical history were reported, nor was it stated if he was on anti-depressants at the time of the deaths.

April, 2005 Sharon Grace, (28) from Wexford, drowns herself and her two daughters, Mikahla (4) and Abby (3), at Kaats Strand, Wexford.

Earlier that day, Mrs Grace had taken a taxi from her home to Ely Private Hospital, Wexford, and asked to speak to a social worker. She was told that there were none available as they were on duty only from Monday to Friday.

Mrs Grace then asked for an emergency number but was told there was none. She was told that she could contact Wexford General Hospital, but said this was not necessary and left the hospital.

Mrs Grace was separated from her husband who was seeking custody of the two children and it was stated at the inquest that she believed her daughters were going to be taken from her.

No details of Mrs Grace’s medical history were reported nor was it stated if she was on anti-depressants at the time of the deaths.

Following Mrs Grace’s death, a working group set up by the Department of Health concluded in 2007 that a 24-hour social service should be put in place.

The HSE accepted the recommendation but the Department took the view that the cost of providing extra staff was not feasible in the current climate.

Mrs Grace’s case was included in the 2012 Report of the Independent Child Death Review Group which examined the deaths of 196 children known to the HSE during the 10-year period from January 2000 to April 2010.

It was stated that the Grace family was known to the HSE for just over one month prior to the deaths. Both parents had contacted the HSE social work office in relation to maintenance and access. The report expressed concern about the limited information on the record in relation to the case.

Subsequently, another woman, Jeane Creane, was to commit suicide after being sent away from Waterford Regional Hospital when she sought help.

July 12, 2005 Madeleine O’Neill, (41) of Carryduff, Belfast, originally from Derry, kills her daughter, Lauren (9), before taking her own life.

Mrs O’Neill gave Lauren sleeping pills and then smothered her in the main bedroom of their home before hanging herself. She left five suicide notes including one to her mother and father.

Mrs O’Neill had battled depression after suffering sexual abuse as a child. After separating from her husband, John, she had developed an acute psychiatric illness in May 2005 which required both inpatient and outpatient treatment.

She relapsed and was admitted to Knockbracken Health Care Park in June. Four days later, she was transferred to Gransha Hospital, where she remained until her release following a two-week stay.

At a preliminary inquest, it emerged that Mrs O’Neill had told a counsellor she was having suicidal thoughts and referred to “taking her daughter with her”.

Concerns were also expressed over an”apparent failure” to transfer her medical notes between a Belfast mental health unit and a psychiatric hospital in Derry were outlined.

Subsequently, an independent review was carried out which found that the deaths of the mother and daughter could have been prevented if health professionals responsible for their care had “communicated better”.

In a joint statement, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Western Health and Social Care Trust admitted “inexcusable” failures to act properly or appropriately to ensure that all relevant arrangements were put in place for the protection of Lauren and, by way of settlement of two civil actions, agreed to pay five-figure damages and costs to Mrs O’Neill’s family and her estranged husband John O’Neill.

February 12, 2006 Mary Keegan, (41) of Firhouse, Dublin, originally from Ballyroan, Dublin, stabs her two sons, Glen (10) and Andrew (6), to death and takes her own life by stabbing and slashing her wrists.

The stabbings took place in the family home – the windows and doors of which had been previously locked by Mrs Keegan. One of the children had been stabbed up to 20 times while the other had been knifed in the face, neck, head and stomach.

Mrs Keegan had been treated for mental illness in the past. It was reported that she was suffering from delusions of poverty and had attended a doctor the previous month. It was further reported that medication was found in her home, although details of this medication was not given.

Mrs Keegan, originally from Ballyroan, was a former beautician who worked part-time for GE Capital Woodchester.

Her husband, Brian, a mechanic, was away in the United States on business at the time of the stabbing and his return had been delayed due to heavy snowfalls.

Mr Keegan also came from Ballyroan and he and his wife had been childhood sweethearts. Their son Glen played GAA at Ballyboden St Enda’s and was described by his under-9 mentor Derek Ward as “a wonderful lad and a fantastic talent”.

At the inquest, Mr Keegan stated that he was proud to have known and married his wife, whom he described as the most loving and generous person he ever met and an inspiration to him and his children.

In a statement released by his solicitor, he stated that

”[u]nbeknownst to myself and those close to her, Mary became over a short period of time engulfed in depression. This led to Mary’s actions on that fateful day.There is, however, no anger in my heart towards her as her actions were borne out of a will to protect our children from the harshness she perceived in this world, however inconceivable or incomprehensible this may appear to us”.

Friends and neighbours of Mrs Keegan described her as a “lady” and a “mother who was entirely devoted to her two boys”.


Lynn Gibbs

25/6 November, 2006 Lynn Gibbs, (47) of Kilkenny, drowns her daughter, Ciara (16), in the bath before trying to kill herself with a meat cleaver. She was subsequently found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

On the day of the killing, Mrs Gibbs and Ciara, who were alone in the house, had gone to Dublin earlier for Ciara to attend a maths lecture.

That evening, after their return home, Mrs Gibbs’ friend Dr Marese Cheasty, a psychiatrist, visited the house and talked to Mrs Gibbs who was “low in herself and depressed.”

Mrs Gibbs was worried that Ciara was suffering from anorexia. According to Dr Cheasty, “[s]he talked about the terrible prognosis for anorexia and how she felt Ciara would never have a career or family because of it. ”

At the time of Ciara’s death, Mrs Gibbs was a consultant locum psychiatrist working with the HSE in Kilkenny. She herself had a history of anorexia and depression and had attempted to commit suicide when she was younger.

Her mother Iris Hutchinson had also suffered from depression and had committed suicide by drinking weedkiller. Mrs Gibbs had been prescribed a number of anti-depressants within the previous month but had come off them herself as she felt they had not suited her.

Mrs Gibbs came from a wealthy Tipperary family and she and her husband Gerard had known one another since they were children.

Ciara was a straight-A student. Mrs Gibbs was a strict mother and there was some conflict between her and Ciara regarding Ciara’s weight and whether or not she suffered from anorexia.

However, Gerard Gibbs told the jury at her trial that theirs “was a house of love” and that “Lynn loved Ciara”.

At the trial, a statement by Mrs Gibbs to Gardai was read out in which she said “I remember being in the house thinking there was no hope for Ciara and myself. I planned that we both would die”.

January 30, 2007 Eileen Murphy, (26) of Churchtown, Cork, falls from the Cliffs of Moher with her son Eavan (4).

The previous day, Ms Murphy and her son had travelled to Galway. They stayed the night in a hotel before buying tickets for a coach tour to the cliffs.

When the tour bus arrived at the cliffs Ms Murphy leapt off and headed quickly towards the cliffs with her son. The two then disappeared and their bodies were found lying at the bottom of the cliffs.

It was reported that Ms Murphy had a history of depression and had seemed withdrawn in the weeks prior to her death. It was not reported whether she was on anti-depressant medication.
Ms Murphy worked for German car component manufacturers, Kostal, and her family was very well known and highly respected within the Churchtown community.

She was described by neighbours as “a lovely person – shy but very kind. And she was absolutely devoted to Evan”.

In an interview with the Sunday Tribune, Ms Murphy’s mother Mrs Eileen Murphy questioned whether the deaths were deliberate, stating that “I still don’t know what happened, I still have unanswered questions. At the inquest, we felt excluded and didn’t know what was going on all the time. We had no solicitor because we weren’t told we could have one. I complained about it to the coroner afterwards.”

Mrs Murphy also stated that “There were a lot of rumours going around that aren’t true about what happened. Everyone has something different to say about it and we live in a small community. It’s not nice to have people talking about your family. It’s not something we’ll ever get over. Not knowing exactly what happened makes it even harder.”

July 14, 2007 Nollaig Kenneally-Owens, (29), of Kilworth, Cork, drowns herself and her eight-month-old son Tadhg.

Mrs Kenneally-Owens had been living in England at the time of Tadhg’s birth but had subsequently returned to Kilworth.

Her husband Gareth had returned to Cork the previous day for a visit and offered to take Tadhg back to England with him but it was ultimately agreed that Tadhg and Mrs Owens would remain in ireland. Mrs Kenneally Owens then told her husband to go back to bed to rest while she took Tadhg for a walk. Subsequently she and Tadhg were found drowned in a shallow stream.

Mrs Kenneally-Owens had been diagnosed with post-natal depression and was on medication. She had attempted suicide the previous week and – unknown to her husband – her GP had written a medical note to have her admitted to hospital. However, this had not happened.

Mrs Kenneally-Owens came from a well-established and respected Kilworth family heavily involved in GAA. Her father Donal owned a construction firm but had been paralysed following a fall on a building site 10 years previously. The family also ran a bar.

A subsequent obituary described Mrs Kenneally-Owens as “beautiful, elegant… a massive sense of humour and a personality that had to be seen to be believed…The craic and the banter was a joy to behold and she was amazingly witty”.

At the inquest, the jury recommended that greater help be put in place by the Health Service Executive (HSE) for women suffering from post-natal depression.

In particular there was a recommendation that the HSE have psychiatric personnel on 24-hour call, including weekends and bank holidays.



The Dunne family

April 20/21, 2007 Adrian Dunne, (29), of Monageer, Wexford, drugs and strangles his wife Ciara (26) and suffocates their children Leanne and Shania, before killing himself by hanging.

On April 4, 2007 Mr Dunne had made a telephone call to an undertakers in New Ross, Wexford. He had told the undertaker that he had just buried a brother to suicide, had lost his father the previous year and a second brother in a car accident during the year.

He enquired about getting white coffins for adults and whether it was possible to bury one child with each adult. He also enquired about wills and what exactly an ‘executor’ was.

He told the undertaker that it was his greatest fear that his mother-in-law would take his children from him. During the conversation a woman’s voice was heard in the background prompting Adrian Dunne.

Subsequently Mr and Mrs Dunne then visited a solicitor in Enniscorthy for the purpose of making their wills, which were never signed by them, despite numerous appointments at the solicitors. Mr Dunne also contacted Canada Life to express an interest in renewing a joint life policy for €250,000 he had taken out in 2004.

On April 18, 2007, Adrian Dunne made a second telephone call to the undertakers in New Ross about plans for his family’s funeral and, on April 19, a third call was made to the funeral directors before the whole family visited them on Friday, April 20, 2007.

Very specific funeral plans were discussed. After the Dunnes left, the funeral director rang Gardai who were informed by the local child care manager that there was no file on the family, which meant that officially the children were not “at risk”.

At the Gardai’s request, the priest nominated to conduct the funeral, Fr Richard Redmond, visited the Dunnes at home that evening. When he broached the subject of the funeral plans, Ciara Dunne became irate and, in a raised voice, asked if he thought they were going to hurt the children or harm them in any way.

Adrian Dunne then told Fr Redmond that he had inquired about funeral arrangements because the four of them always travelled together in the car and he was worried what would happen if they had an accident. Fr Redmond thought this was very plausible.

Later that evening, Fr Redmond got a curious telephone call from Adrian Dunne, asking if he was at home. When another priest, Fr Cosgrave, called upon the family the following day, at Fr Redmond’s request, the blinds were drawn, the Nissan car was in the drive, but no one answered the door.

That morning, Fr Redmond again phoned the Gardaí and, at 1.30pm on Saturday, the Gardaí called to the Dunne family home, where they found the bodies of Adrian Dunne and his family.

It is thought that the most probable time of death of the two children and Ciara Dunne was on Saturday morning, April 21.

A message in the outbox of a mobile phone found in the home, sent at 10.17am that morning, read: “Please ring father r from Wexford and tel him Ciara and Aidran are so very sorry. We nott going to Livepol. Instad we pick heaven….please for give.”

Mr and Mrs Dunne and their children both suffered from eye defects and Mr Dunne was legally blind. Adrian Dunne had been brought up in Forristalstown, a community which had been served for a number of years by the paedophile priest, Fr Jim Grennan.

Adrian Dunne had lost one brother in a car accident. Another brother – James – had hanged himself in the family home at Forristalstown. one month previously.

It is believed that he did not leave a note of explanation. The day of James’s funeral, Adrian told another brother that he “wouldn’t have the bottle to do what James did to himself”.

Mrs Dunne was the daughter of a well-to-do family from north Donegal and her father, PJ O’Brien, was a former hurler who managed the Donegal county team. Mrs Dunne’s family did not approve of her relationship with Mr Dunne and Mr Dunne was afraid that they would seek to take the children from him. Mr Dunne also had substantial debts.

It was not reported whether either Mr or Mrs Dunne were on medication for depression at the time of their deaths.

At the inquest, Dr Sean Nixon, coroner for North Wexford, stated that Mr and Mrs Dunne:

“Seemed to be in agreement’ when making their plans, But their lives were taken in a misguided belief that life was better somewhere else maybe to heaven.”

Dr Nixon also stated that he thought that both parents may have had matters planned for a little while, “[b]ut they also were very careful and very able to discourage and distract any attention away from what their intentions might have been”.

He said that “all the answers may never be known”, but that “certainly” the husband and wife had a perception that “there was a better life somewhere else, feeling that life here was tough.” Maybe they felt they were bringing their family and the children to a better place, maybe to heaven, he said.

Dr Nixon said the Dunnes loved their children there was no doubt about that. He also said that it was almost invariable that parents and family are “quite united in their intentions” in cases of familicide.

An inquiry (“the Monageer Inquiry”), set up under barrister Kate Brosnan to enquire into the circumstances of the Dunnes’ deaths, took the view that Adrian Dunne was the driving force behind the planning and execution of the deaths of Ciara Dunne and their two children, and there was no third party involvement.

The report of the Inquiry suggested the death of Adrian Dunne’s brother James as a factor which may have contributed to the deaths.

Other factors were: Adrian Dunne s controlling and dominant influence within the family; Ciara Dunne’s docile, childlike nature , which made her compliant and subservient to her husband’s wishes; Adrian Dunne’s ability in isolating his wife from her family; their mounting debts; and the option of a move to Liverpool no longer seeming feasible.

The report of the Inquiry – large sections of which were blacked out to protect the identity of people figuring in the investigation – stated that Gardaí, when they discovered the bodies of the Dunne family, should have taken immediate steps to notify their wider families of the tragic deaths.

It also took the view that Gardaí should have considered contacting Adrian Dunne s family to advise them of the family’s visit to the undertaker.

The report also called for the provision of a national out-of-hours social work service to ensure an appropriate response to serious child protection and welfare concerns. It also recommends greater training for frontline staff, a review of management structures in the HSE and better mechanisms for the early identification of children at risk.

The Dunne case was also considered in the 2012 Report of the Independent Child Death Review Group already discussed above in relation to Sharon Grace.

The Report stated that the family was known to the HSE for five years, from shortly before Leanne was born. The services that engaged with the family were the HSE Social Work Department, the HSE Public Health Nursing Service, the NGO Service, Paediatric Services and Early Intervention Teams.

There were concerns regarding Leanne’s development and a referral was made to the Early Intervention Team. The family moved constantly and services were unable or failed to keep in touch with them.

Both parents expressed difficulties with their extended families and appeared isolated. The case files on Leanne and Shania had “almost no direct information” about them. There was very little interaction with the family by the services recorded on the file and there was no information at all on the outcome of any child protection conferences.

The file consists of numerous copies of the same form. There are no records of any communication with this family during the years from 2005 to 2007 when the deaths occurred.

It was concluded that the services failed to recognise that this family required extra support and that the system of communication within the HSE appeared to be disjointed. In particular, it was not possible to identify any one person/key workers who had access to all the information in relation to the family.

May, 2007 Catriona Innes, (26), of Letterkenny, Donegal, originally from Bundoran, Donegal, kills her daughter, Katelyn (7.) before before taking her own life.

Ms Innes and Katelyn, who had not been seen for several days, were found dead in their home on May 15, 2007. Ms Innes had died by hanging and Katelyn by asphyxiation due to smothering.

The previous Saturday, Katelyn had made her First Holy Communion and the mother and daughter had spent the following day with Ms Innes’ family in Bundoran. At the inquest, Ms Innes’ friend Caroline Gallagher gave evidence that her friend had complained of stress at work and that life in general was tough.

It was also stated by Ms Innes’ mother that, in her final phone conversation with her daughter, Ms Innes had stated that she was not in good form, that she was tired and fed up but did not want to talk about it.

Asked if her daughter was a stressed person, her mother replied that she was “good at hiding things”. Ms Innes’ ex-boyfriend Ronan Brennan also told the inquest that he received a voicemail message from Ms Innes at 10.22pm on Sunday night asking him to call her because she needed a favour. He was going on holidays the next day and did not return the call.

It is not stated whether or not Ms Innes had a history of depression or was on anti-depressants at the time of the deaths. Coroner Sean Cannon said this tragedy highlighted the growing problem of suicide in Ireland.

He said when a person also takes the life of an innocent child it is beyond human reasoning. He said that the case brought home the fact that suicide prevention is everybody’s responsibility and tackling this increasing epidemic of suicide and self harm requires everyone’s support and effort.

Returning their verdict, the jury added a condition that every effort should be made to ensure greater support is made at community level to prevent a tragedy like this occurring in the future.



The McElhill family

November 13, 2007 Arthur McElhill, of Omagh, kills himself, his partner Lorraine McGovern and their five children Caroline (13), Sean (7), Bellina, (4), Clodagh (19 months) and James, (nine months) by burning.

Mr McElhill threw petrol over his partner and children and set them alight before throwing the can from a window of the family home.

At the inquest, it was stated that he did so because Ms McGovern had threatened to leave him following disclosure of his affair with a 16-year-old girl. Mr McEhill, initially described as a hardworking caring family man, had a number of convictions for assault on teenage girls and had recently set up a Bebo account for grooming purposes.

Dr Michelle Mellotte told the inquest that she had prescribed anti-depressants to Mr McElhill when he attended her practice in September 2007.

At the time, he had described himself as “down and depressed and generally finding things difficult.” She stated that, during the visit, she had asked him questions designed to find out if he was suicidal or homicidal, but the answers raised “no concerns”.

He had subsequently failed to appear for an appointment in October. Subsequently Dr Mellotte herself pleaded guilty to abuse of trust after having entered into an arrangement to borrow the sum of from £10,000 from an Alzheimer’s patient.


Diarmaid and Lorraine Flood

April 25/6, 2008 Diarmaid Flood, of Wexford, shoots his wife Lorraine in bed and smothers his two children Julie and Mark before shooting himself.

On Thursday, April 17, Mr Flood had visited the surgery of Dr James Kirrane. He told Dr Kirrane that he felt depressed about work being quiet and he said he felt low during the winter months.

Dr Kirrane said Mr Flood told him he was waking up in the middle of the night sweating and with heart palpitations. However, when asked about the possibility of self-harm and suicide, he said he would never do something like that.

Following a full physical examination, Dr Kirrane told Mr Flood he was in good health. Dr Kirrane subsequently wrote to St Senan’s Hospital in Enniscorthy to request an appointment for Mr Flood to meet a psychiatrist, but no response had been received at the date of his death. It was not reported whether or not Mr Flood had been prescribed anti-depressants.

The shotgun found at the scene had been given to Mr Flood by a relative, and he had asked to borrow four shotgun cartridges in the days before the tragedy. Prior to the shooting, he took his wife and children on a final swimming trip on Friday, April 25. Reports that Mr Flood made an anguished phone call to a friend confessing what he had done at around 5.45am on Saturday, April 26, were denied by the friend.

Mr Flood was a successful businessman from a well-known Wexford GAA hurling family and Mrs Flood was a former Wexford Rose of Tralee.

At the inquest, Dr Sean Nixon, Coroner for North Wexford, said: “What happened I cannot explain, maybe no one can explain. In cases of familicide, strangely this may have been seen as an act of love by Diarmuid Flood”.

Following the verdicts being returned by the jury, Dr Nixon added: “This has been a very, very hard year for the Flood and Kehoe families. I know the inquest will not bring all the answers. In cases like this, there are no winners, there are only victims Dr Nixon said Mr Flood loved his wife and children and was very close to them.” He said the family had no relationship problems and no financial worries at the time, and that “all the answers may never be known”.

butlerJohn Butler and daughter Ella

November 16 2010 John Butler (43), of Ballycotton, Co Cork, originally from Cobh, Co Cork, killed his daughters, Zoe (7) and Ella (2), before killing himself.

Mr Butler strangled Zoe and suffocated Ella at the family home after his wife Una had left for work. He subsequently drove to a local petrol station, filled a can with petrol, and set the car alight while driving.

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy said she could find no traces of alcohol, drugs or prescription drugs in her autopsy on Mr Butler’s remains, and that he died from inhalation of smoke and fire gases as well as extensive burns.

Mr Butler was a former GAA star from a well-known GAA family. He had lost his job at Irish Steel five years previous and then found it hard to get work. He had suffered from depression on and off for some years and had been under the care of Mental Health Services from November 2009 until he was discharged from their care in August 2010.

Although he had been prescribed anti-depressants, there was no trace of prescription drugs in his system at the time of his death.

Mr Butler’s widow, Mrs Una Butler recently stated that she had been waiting for four years from a review from the HSE into the deaths. Mrs Butler stated “It is really frightening how frequently murder-suicides are now occurring in Ireland. But the only time you hear anyone calling for something to be done about them is when the media are writing about them happening.”

She pointed out that, that, in Britain, a 24-page report was automatic when anyone dies in such circumstances within 12 months of having dealt with mental health services. She has also argued for changes to legislation making it mandatory to assess the risk of children of mental health sufferers.


The McCarthy Family

March 7, 2013 Martin McCarthy (50) drowns his daughter Clarissa in shallow water close to his family home at Foilnamuck, west Cork, before drowning himself.

Mr McCarthy left a note setting out out his plans. He and his wife Rebecca had been married for seven years but the relationship had recently broken down.

Mr McCarthy had been in poor health recently and had been treated in Cork University Hospital for a heart complaint before Christmas. Several locals said that, while a shy man, he had been especially subdued over recent weeks.

It was not reported whether or not Mr McCarthy was suffering from depression or had been prescribed anti-depressants.

Mr McCarthy, who also worked part-time for a local vet, was a Fine Gael activist and canvassed for the party in the Cork South West constituency. Each year he played Santa Claus at Ballydehob’s annual Christmas party and regularly played cards in the village.

Former Cork TD PJ Sheehan stated: “Martin was a man you could rely on. He was a professional farmer who was energetic and highly respected. He was absolutely devoted to his wife and child and the little girl was his pride and joy.”

Mr McCarthy’s former schoolmate, Leslie Swanton, said the entire Ballydehob community was devastated by the tragedy: ”He was an absolute gentleman. I knew Martin all my life.”


Sanjeev Chada and his sons  Roghan and Ruairi

July 29 2013 Sanjeev Chada, from Ballinkillen, Co Carlow and originally from Magherafelt, Co. Derry, kills his two sons, Eoghan and Ruairi, 5 before crashing his car in Westport Co Mayo.

He had told his wife he was taking them bowling.

Mr Chada, who survived the crash, was subsequently convicted of the murder of his sons, whose bodies were found in the boot of his car.

Mr Chada had worked for a bank before leaving to become an IT consultant. He was actively involved in community activities in Ballinkillen. The Chadas were described as a well-respected family in Magherafelt and well thought of in the community.

No details were given of Mr Chada’s medical history or motive for the killing nor was it reported whether he was taking anti-depressants.


The Greaney Family

December 28, 2014 Michael Greaney (53), of Cobh, Co Cork, stabs his wife Valerie, and injures his daughter Michelle Greaney (21) before taking his own life.

The attack took place at the family home shortly after Christmas 2014.

Mr Greaney had a history of mental illness. In 2013, he had attempted to kill a teenage girl and then take his own life. After a criminal trial, he was remanded to the Central Mental Hospital for assessment but subsequently discharged by Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin to be treated in the community.

A restriction on returning to reside at his family home was lifted in October 2014 with the consent of his wife, following a psychiatric report which assessed that he posed no risk to his family.

Mr Greaney worked as a trained physiotherapist but his Cobh business ran into problems when he expanded shortly before the economic crash.

According to his brother Kevin, he had insisted on treating people who couldn’t afford to pay him. Kevin said: “He’d treated them in the good times and wouldn’t turn his back on them in the bad times. That’s how kind a person he was. But it broke him in the end.”

He had been involved in litigation with three different banks and feared he could lose the family home over his debts. Following his release from hospital, he had been actively pursued by debt collection agents acting for several financial institutions.

Mr Greaney was a Naval Service veteran, had a sporting background, particularly rowing, and had won three All-Ireland medals competing in coastal races. He was a Minister of the Eucharist and also employed as the gardener at the Bishop of Cloyne’s palace in the town.

July 19, 2016 Marco Velocci (28) crashes his car on the main Limerick to Tipperary Road, killing his son Alex.

The crash occurred shortly after Mr Velocci had injured his former partner, Ms Jodie Power, in a domestic dispute. Ms Power suffered a broken arm and a number of stab wounds.

Ms Power had been involved in a long-term relationship with Velocci but the couple had split up two years ago.

Mr Velocci, a tradesman, was born in Ireland and his family had been living there for many years. Mr Velocci’s former sports coach, John Ryan, said Ms Power and Velocci were “childhood sweethearts”.

It was not reported whether or not Mr Velocci suffered from depression or was taking anti-depressants at the time of the crash.


The Hawe Family

August 28, 2016 Alan Hawe (40), of Ballyjamesduff, Cavan, and originally from Windgap, County Kilkenny, killed his wife Clodagh and their three children Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6).

The killings happened on a Sunday night before Mr Hawe and his wife, also a teacher, were due to start the new school term. Clodagh Hawe was stabbed in a downstairs room of the family home and the three boys strangled and stabbed in in their sleep.

A hatchet and knives were taken away by Gardai for forensic analysis. Earlier that weekend the Hawes had attended a family event in Windgap but did not, as was usual, stay over. The entire family attended a sports event at Ballyjamesduff on the day of the killings, and were described as being in good form.

Alan Hawe left behind a number of notes, including a sealed note addressed to relatives, which appeared to have been written in advance of the crime. It was also reported that Gardai were examining a text sent by Liam Hawe shortly before the killings, which read “out of all evil comes good”.

Alan Hawe was a vice principal at Castlerahan National School and Clodagh Hawe also worked as a teacher. Some of the notes left behind, however, indicated that he might have been under pressure at work and the killings occurred the night before the new school year was due to start.

Mr and Mrs Hawe and their children were active members of the local Catholic Church and Castlerahan GAA club. As a boy, Mr Hawe had been a star GAA handball player.

Neighbours described Mr Hawe as a good man who “never put a step wrong.”and the family as ‘very close’. Clodagh Hawe’s mother Mary Coll and sister expressed their forgiveness for Mr Hawe and their support of persons with mental health issues.

Clodagh Hawe’s brother Tadgh Coll had died from suicide some years previously. Mrs Coll was quoted by one source as saying that “if Alan had been in his right mind he would never, ever have touched a hair on the heads of those boys or her daughter. He loved them. Everything he did, he did for them.’

Another relative, however, disputed claims of mental health issues and described Alan Hawe as “a killer.”

The same relative said of Mr Hawe: “He was not an ill man who suffered years of mental torment. He was a man who meticulously controlled and planned every aspect of his evil deed.”

Mr Hawe was not known to suffer any mental health issues, had no contact with the HSE and had no major financial problems. A Garda source stated that he had never been the subject of any kind of complaint.

Alan Hawe’s native village, Windgap, had previously featured in the news in November 2009 when the local postman, Brian Hennessy, was sentenced to three life terms for the murder of a single mother, Sharon Whelan, and her two daughters, Zara and Nadia, on Christmas Eve, 2008. Mr Hennessy first killed Ms Whelan and then set the house on fire with Zara and Nadia inside. He said that the children were asleep at the time and he did not know why he did it, it made him sad that he had taken their mother away at Christmas and he was worried about the murder.

Sources: Irish Newspaper Archive; National Library of ireland; Inquest and court documents; Irish Times, Irish Independent, RTÉ, Evening Herald, Sunday Times and Sunday Tribune.

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172 thoughts on “The War At Home

  1. postmanpat

    psilocybin therapy is doing wonders for trauma in trials at the moment so I hear, but , you know , drugs are bad mummmkay. better stick to the prescribed old favorites and let the doctor keep getting his kickback from big pharma.

    1. Turgenev

      Blaming antidepressants for depressed people committing murder is like blaming aspirin for headachey people snapping at their spouses.
      The reason this hideous crime has become common is the reverential coverage of the murderers and damp-handkerchiefed wonderings of “how could such a wonderful person do such a thing to his/her little darlings”.
      We could take a lesson from Malcolm Gladwell’s essay Suicide, Smoking and the Search for an Unsticky Cigarette in his book The Tipping Point, extracted here:
      in which he describes an epidemic of child suicides in Micronesia, which he describes like this: “As the number of suicides has grown, the idea has fed upon itself, infecting younger and younger boys, and transforming the act itself so that the unthinkable has somehow been rendered thinkable.”
      Irish journalists are, all unconsciously, feeding the same kind of thinking in their coverage of familicides. Somewhere in Ireland now there is a father or a mother looking out a window, tapping a cigarette into an ashtray, hands warming on a cup of tea, thinking “I’ll take them with me…”

      1. :-Joe

        Another great, great post, take a bow and carry on.

        Oh, man… It’s reminding me of a lot that is so, so deeply tragic…. I’m finding it difficult not to reach for a bottle and sulk over it for a few hours with my eyes dripping into the glass.

        I know from personal experience and that of people close to me how so many of these tragic events could have been avoided and the countless cases of lives turning almost in a heartbeat to being permanently lost.

        I don’t think anyone in this country can live for too long without the same experience of at least knowing about many others affected with mental illness in some form or another not least the effects.

        We should all keep talking about it but we also need to take action in some way together to help resolve these issues. Demand that our elected politicians work on improving the infustructure around these issues and do what you can to help make it happen.

        All due respect and condolences to the families involved, more articles like this please..

        If someone even gives you the impression they are suffering from a mental problem, please assume the worst, don’t take anything for granted and do something about it. Thanks.


      2. :-Joe

        Yes, you make a very good and important point, we have seen the same effect with murders and mass shootings in the US that are over publicised with the ” If it bleeds it leads” mentality of the media.

        However, I do believe these stories are needed, must be told and a lot more often so that the issues surrounding the whole infastructure of these mental health problems can be resolved.

        Obviously, everyone in theory would want to avoid sensationalism and have the details handled carefully and truthfully without any distortion that could lead to encouraging it in others but I don’t see how or know if that’s possible.

        I’m doubtfull that there is any debate, procedures or strategy in place for this in Ireland outside general media standards.

        I’d be interested to know more though if anyone here is aware of the details?…


  2. moould

    so only one of the cases actually had anti-depressants involved but you reckon it’s a factor in all of them? wilful dangerous stuff BS – I’m done with this site

    1. Marie Curry

      There are not just one but a number of references to either anti-depressants or ‘medication in response to depression (obviously anti-depressants!)’ been given to 6 of the murder-suicides, they are Mary Keegan, Lynn Gibbs, John Butler, Michael Burke, Nollaig Keneally, and Arthur McElhill, Further Greaney and Palmer were recently been out of psychiatric care and were almost certainly given anti-depressants while in care!! I would suggest you read the post again as it is not saying there is anything wrong with giving anti-depressants just that they need to be monitored and it is important not to stop taking them, which is well known.

  3. Salmon of Nollaig

    I counted numerous refs. to either anti-depressants or ‘medication’, what are you going on about Moould?

    Lynn Gibbs was on three different anti-depressants in the weeks prior to her killing her daughter and had ‘come off’ same. Have you any idea of the effect of that?

    I have been on anti-d’s for over 20 years for anxiety and they allow me to function well but they are heavy drugs and you need to be extremely careful when coming off them. It can be like cold turkey (some brands are worse than others).

    It is clear that at least 1/3 of these people were on anti-depressants and quite likely more and it is clear that John Butler who had been prescribed anti-depressants was not taking them at the time of his death. It is also possible that some of the other people who had missed med. appointments may have run out of their prescriptions as you need to go back every so often to get your prescription renewed with anti-ds.

    A proper understanding of anti-depressants is essential and people need to be aware of this.

      1. Salmon of Nollaig

        Mould may be gone but his comment remains up and as such it merits a response so other people are not (to use his own word) ‘wilfully’ misled by it.

        This post raises legitimate issues.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      The brain zaps if you don’t take Effexor for a couple of days are horrendous. I forgot mine on a long weekend to the UK a few years ago. I’ve never made that mistake again.

      1. Salmon of Nollaig

        Indeed, mine is Seroxat (Paxil) but anyone who has taken it knows about the brain zaps, mood swings etc. when not withdrawn from gradually and carefully, doctors need to give clear advice on this, also the price of the tablets is prohibitive and difficulties in paying for doctors to get prescriptions renewed result in having to come off it all of a sudden which results in uncharacteristic behaviour and mood swings and sometimes feelings of absolute blackness. I found it a lifesaver for anxiety but it is heavy stuff and needs to be used responsibly.

        1. louislefronde

          Some of those anti-depressant medications are very dangerous and questions need to be asked how they managed to ‘get through the system’. The odd thing is that there are prescription drugs which are far more dangerous to the population than some of the ‘prohibited drugs’ like cannabis which even the Surgeon General of the United States is on record as saying it has therapeutic value.

          1. Daisy Chainsaw

            Spare me the “big pharma” woo. I’ve been taking the “dangerous” medication for years. Even on anti depressants, I have dark days, so I shudder to think what I’d be like if I wasn’t on them… or if I’d even be alive.

      2. Mr M

        It is an awful experience. I notice it if I miss a day. I hate having to accept that I won’t function without them. There has to be a better way; it’s so unnatural

        1. Starina

          it’s no more unnatural than any other medication. if your internal chemistry is ‘off’, the meds help rebalance them.

          1. ZeligIsJaded

            It’s debatable whether there is anything ‘off’ about the internal chemistry of the majority of people using anti-depressants.

          2. ZeligIsJaded

            Qualified doctors you say!

            Qualified ‘Internal Chemistry’ doctors no doubt.

            Ah yes, where would we be without them.

            You seem tetchy Star!

            Maybe something is off to the left this morning

          3. Starina

            wow, that’s cool. look, everyone: a real-life example of stigmatisation of mental illness.
            feel like a big man, now, zelig? a victory against big pharma! yeah!

          4. ZeligIsJaded

            You assume I’m criticising big pharma while I never mentioned them.

            You might feel persecuted Star, but it doesn’t provide you with free reign to attack anyone with a differing opinion.

            A healthy cynicism with regard any psychiatric medications makes sense to me. It doesn’t imply ‘I know better’ than big pharma, or that I think that the wool is being pulled over the eyes of those who rely on them.

            But the fact remains that there is an issue with over reliance in general, by both patient and practitioner in the absence of any more sustainable treatment plan.

            I was simply challenging the fallacy that anti depressants fix an internal ‘imbalance.’

          5. Starina

            if you knew anything at all about anti-depressants, you’d know that’s what they are indeed for. try, i dunno, the wikipedia page for SSRIs. and i have the right to criticise anyone’s opinion – after all it’s only my opinion too, right?

          6. ZeligIsJaded

            Right, so antidepressants are of no use to people who do not have a ‘chemical imbalance’, or whose brain chemistry is not ‘off’?

            I can’t argue with that logic.

      3. Niamh

        I came off Effexor abruptly (stupidly) and had a manic episode (I do not have bipolar disorder, but garden-variety depression, so this was, I think/hope, a one-off). It lasted about two days.

        It was terrifying. I didn’t eat or sleep. I don’t like, if I am honest, to think about it, but yes – these drugs, they can alter you, quite profoundly, can’t they?

        1. ZeligIsJaded

          They’re extremely powerful medications.

          And should be monitored very closely, even without significant changes to dose.

        1. Frida

          What are brain zaps, how do they make you feel? My ex was on lexapro for a while and it pulled him out of a hole but he could never really describe what he was going through. It felt as if he was somehow out of reach.

          1. Starina

            they’re a physical sensation, for me the roof of my mouth goes numb and i get really dizzy/woozy. probably different for others. that’s only if i miss a pill. otherwise they haven’t made me feel disconnected or not-me, just more on an even keel in regards to anxiety and depression. everyone’s chemistry varies a bit though – a bit like contraceptive pills, that’s why there’s so many variations. x

  4. Daisy Chainsaw

    We need to speak ill of the dead. No more “pillars of the community”, no more “she was devoted to her boys”. Some of these cases are issues with mental illness where the victims were let down by social services and the lack of joined up mental health care and in a couple of cases the lack of mental health care full stop. And some of them are cases of an abuser murdering his/her children out of spite and narcissism.

    If you’ve decided you can’t go on, do something about it yourself. Don’t drag innocent partners and children into it to sate your ego. Life will go on without you.

      1. ahjayzis

        I’m kind of inclined to think a stigma around taking your family with you is a stigma worth hanging on to though.

        Overwrought sensitivity about the individual doesn’t actually benefit anyone – they’re dead.

    1. ReproBertie

      If you’ve decided you can’t go on go and talk to someone. The only thing that gets hurt by talking is your pride and, as Marsellus Wallace said, Fk pride. Get it out of your head and let people help you build a future. If they came to you for help you’d jump to it so what makes you think they won’t?

    2. rotide

      Daisy, did you actually read this article?

      The point is that these people were to all outward signs and up to a certain point , actual pillars of the community and devoted their children.

      The article is looking at reasons as to how people with these traits end up murdering their loved ones.

      But continue with the all men are evil narrative if that gets you through the day.

          1. Daisy Chainsaw

            Including the he/she bits? I was deliberately non gender specific because both men and women who’ve murdered their kids are too easily eulogised by Irish society.

          2. rotide

            Yes including those bits Daisy.

            It reads like the women that killed their children were victims who were let down by social services, whereas the men were violent abusers hellbent on murder.

            If you didn’t mean that , then fine but that’s how it read to me.

          3. Bandy

            ahaha.. If you didn’t write what I imagined you wrote then my bad, but let me chastise you for it anyway..
            I think I saw someone tell this the guy the other day, ‘stop trying to sound important’ – it fits again here..

    3. Orla

      @ Daisy

      Well said. It has to be said that some people are not just sad or bad but pure evil – less of the pity for this creature.

          1. Orla

            Rotide, you pop up at the most inocuous of times.

            To controlling men, this is the ultimate punishment to inflict on the woman in his life. For the two years my ex-husband had access to the marital home before our divorce went through, when id walk through the door and was met with
            silence, my first thought was if he’d killed our children. My ex-husband was a controlling man and the children were the only eay he could hurt me.

          2. rotide

            While I sympathise with your situation Orla, the article above clearly shows that this is a problem unaffected by gender. Both men and women kill their children. You seem to be only concentrating on the men.

          1. Orla

            Thanks Daisy, glad you understand. At the time, a father in England that had weekend access, he killed his four children by lawn-mower fumes in the car – he actually rang his ex-partner/wife naming which child had died and naming which child had died during the call.

          2. Orla

            @ Rotide

            While I appteciate your comment, I feel that you have no understanding of the fear of women in this position – while we know these men need locking up, by the time officials take notice and listen it’s always almost too late.

            You’ve never been in my position, you cannot comment.

          3. rotide

            Don’t presume to know anything at all about me Orla.

            I’m just pointing out that due to your experience that you talked about you seem to have a somewhat biased view of things.

          4. Orla

            @ Rotide

            I presume nothing, saying that, I’m a realist, when’s the last time you were left frozen in fear by a woman?

    4. Turgenev

      Or if not to speak ill of the dead, we need at least to have a single, 3 column inches, calm report, followed by a factual 3 column inches report of the funeral and a back-page 3 column inches report of the post mortem. Not front-page headlines and photos. Damp it down.

    5. :-Joe

      Yes, well said.

      Get straight to the truth of the events in a fair and balanced way in order to deal with them honestly.


    1. Clampers Outside!

      Good doc that.
      Watched most of it last night. Erin Pizzey was streets ahead of her time, and is still way ahead by today’s standards in her approach to domestic violence because she is not ideologically lead, but leads with compassion and understanding, and real world experience.

  5. louislefronde

    There has been an upsurge in cases like this globally, and questions have been posed in both the United States and Canada as to whether prescription anti-depressants may be playing a part or at least contributing to this highly unusual phenomena. This something that needs to be examined, before being excluded from the equation.

  6. whut

    when this story was in the news, family members all said of how Alan Hawe was a good person, and that it mustve been something just went in his brain and he lost his mind, and they said they didnt want him painted out to be a nutter, because he had lived his whole life being a great family man and so on … and then feminists turned it into a sexism story, saying he was a psycho who murdered his family, and that it should be reported as so, and that more attention should be on his wife. granted, there defo was some horrible overlookings of his wife, eg. one paper didnt even mention her in the headline, just mentioned the 3 beautfiul boys. however, for people whoa re all about equality for all, to come out and go against the family wishes and say he was a maniac who hated women, was a bit fuppin much. they didnt show much sympathy to the surviving family, blasting about it publically, for all to hear, including his family. how do they think that makes them feel? they couldnt just sit on it and respect the families wishes, they had to turn it into an “all men are awful” example.

    1. St. John Smythe

      what has that got to do with people who are for equality? I don’t follow your argumentation. You are saying that if you are for social/sexual/finanicial equality then by some kind of logical consquence you can’t call a murderer a murderer? Or that going against a families (presumed) wishes to not have their family painted publically as a murder is somehow in conflict with the wider promotion of social/sexual/finanicial equality?
      Please, paint the links for me between the two?

      1. Clampers Outside!

        Read this, it’s a good example of what he is speaking of…. a despicable piece too, imo

        She turns it into a misogyny story, has a go at the family for their choice of burial arrangements, and writes the piece so that it reads as if only men are ever eulogised. Never once, and intentionally so, does the piece let the reader know this is a problem of both genders, but hammers home it’s a problematic male issue only, and that women are …”In Irish society in 2016, women and children are still seen as chattels.”

        It’s a pathetic piece of drivel, disgusting even.

        1. whut

          exactly .. and the irony in her saying that there wasnt focus on the wife, is that she fails to mention the 3 kids at all, and has made it all about the wife. all in all, its a incredibly tragic event that shouldnt be used to piggy back on to make points for feminism.

        2. :-Joe

          Why are you finding that article so appaling to you?

          I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as you’re making out and maybe calling it a mysogony story is the right way to go.

          It is full of vitriol and anger but the author explains the reasoning with a fair amount of detail that’s hard to deny is based in reality.

          Argueing solely on the basis of what she didn’t say is a bit pointless without a reply.

          All said, it’s your opinion and you have the right to be offended.


          1. Clampers Outside!

            No, I argued what she did say, as well as intentional omissions in order to frame it as a misogyny problem.

            I agree with her eulogising point, the same eulogising that happens when women do same, something her article omits purposefully.

    2. :-Joe

      Is it not possible that parents are completely unaware of most of what was happening behind the closed doors of their childrens families?

      The feminists ?….

      I think you’re confusing an angry and frustrated author who happens to be a woman speaking about serious womens issues from a fair point of view as being some kind of conspiracy against men.

      Your argument is just mostly misplaced anger and naive at best.

      You’re only salient point about respect for the family is fair enough, though I don’t agree.

      If someone murders other people, regardless of the circumstances they should be treated the same as any other murder case. It should be a criminal investigation until the facts prove otherwise. I think this is the whole point of the auther, we need to stop the eulagising before all the facts are in.

      How else are we going to treat these cases involving dead victims with the importance they deserve?


  7. Saturday Night Newsround

    Surely if someone apparently loving and caring kills their family the question of what medication they were on at the time is relevant and should be examined and reported to see if some sort of adverse reaction to either an initial prescription or withdrawal could have contributed? What’s such a big deal about asking this question? The fact that many people take and benefit from this widely prescribed medication which may well be completely safe if taken and withdrawn from according to guidelines shouldn’t stop these questions being asked, in fact it makes it more important that they be asked. Isn’t this obvious?

    1. Clampers Outside!

      One of the problems with the study in this area and in domestic violence is that it is largely a research area ‘owned’ by feminism which has no interest in viewing perpetrators as being anything more than violent animals, and that the perpetrators in feminist research are always male.

      This has been a problem within modern feminism since the 1960s when feminism kicked out Erin Pizzey for wanting to extend refuge and research to not just victims but to perpetrators. She also wanted it known that women made up a considerable number of perpetrators, which was, and still is, another issue feminism does not want to address.
      These two issues are willfully shut down from media attention by feminism, which means feminism is in no position to have an authoritative overview opinion on DV because it’s information is biased through intentional omission.
      (Erin is the woman who opened the first ever women’s refuge center in the world, and wrote the first ever book on domestic abuse)

      DV and these murder suicide stories and how they are viewed and treated is very much under the feminist viewpoint, and as long as it is, we will never see or be able to even try to see the full picture. At least not as long as there is only one view of DV.
      Related news on DV and murder suicides –

      And just to confirm that it is likely going to continue down that blinkered feminist advocacy research route, one need only look at what Frances Fitzgerald said when she announced a six year study into domestic violence last week at the National Womens Council of Ireland’s AGM including a campaign to raise awareness of dv…. “Ideally, decision making should always have a feminist lens”.

      I worry for any real future developments in curbing domestic violence and research into murder-suicide when the only view will be that of a one-sided ideologically driven lens…..

      I was in an abusive relationship for between six to seven years, physically violent in the last two, black eyes, bloody noses, etc, etc. I also have perspective. Feminism offers male victims of DV nothing and should not be leading any campaigns or studies into our governments future handling of domestic abuse.
      A balanced egalitarian approach and one that is non-ideologically lead will be the most whole picture approach that can be taken when tackling DV.

      We need a scientific approach to DV because the last fifty years of a feminist approach is failing everyone.

        1. Saturday Night Newsround

          Very sorry to hear about the abusive relationship, no one should be subjected to physical or psychological abuse, glad you got out of it.

      1. Niamh

        Clampers, I am sorry to hear of your experiences of DV. But why do you feel that feminism was responsible for it, or offers you nothing? Feminism maintains healthy skepticism in the face of the centrality of the hetero-nuclear-family model, the model that gorifies the family as a private, ‘together’, enterprise and leaves people economically and emotionally trapped inside it. This is a big reason behind DV generally – the inability to escape the sanctioned enclosure of the family/home. Feminism also argues against images of masculinity as rigid, aggressive, ‘boys-don’t-cry’ etc., and these are stereotypes feeding the idea that men don’t experience DV, when of course they do.

        However, it is an incontrovertible fact that the majority of DV incidents and fillicides (see list above) are committed by me. Nobody particularly wishes that to be true to satisfy an atavistic irrational agenda. It’s just true. I am a woman, and I cannot ignore the statistical likelihood of my experiencing abuse (or assault, which I’ve experienced already, multiple times) or rape/non-consensual sex, just to be PC or because men like you prefer to blame feminism (which is really blaming women, isn’t it?) for your personal experiences.

        I don’t blame *all men* for my own negative experiences, but I do blame a society that venerates the nuclear family and allows me to remain statistically more likely to be harassed, raped, beaten, etc., *because I am a woman*.

        I mean, how else can I interpret it?

        I just deserve it, for being – what, a woman, capable of refusing or humiliating men? A shrew? An uppity little bitch? A slut?


        1. Clampers Outside!

          Feminism is not responsible for my having found myself in a DV situation in the sense you make it out to be in your comment.
          It’s in its closed view approach to domestic violence research is the problem I speak of, and the implications for men as a result of that faulty research.

          Exhibit A – The Duluth Model of domestic violence is by its nature incapable of seeing women as perpetrators nor capable of seeing men as victims of DV.
          Yet, feminism insists it is the best model to study DV.

          If you cannot see the problem in that model approach…. I cannot help you there.

        2. Clampers Outside!

          On why do I feel ‘feminism offers …nothing’….

          “This bibliography examines 286 scholarly investigations: 221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses in dozens of countries, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 371,600.” Source:

          Lots more world wide stats here…

          I would also offer the feminist support for the Istanbul Convention currently doing the rounds of ratification around the EU, and will likely be passed into law. That convention does not even acknowledge the existence of violence against men – “Recognising that the realisation of de jure and de facto equality between women and men is a key element in the prevention of violence against women.”
          End of sentence, no mention of violence against men. How can there be balance when the law will likely in future not even acknowledge violence against men.

          That’s not me being hystrerical… look for your self, this is from the department of Justice website –
          ” The Convention is a broad based document which covers a number of
          Departments’ policy areas.
          The purposes of this Convention are to:
          a ) protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent,
          prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic
          b ) ensure the design of a comprehensive framework, policies and
          measures for the protection of and assistance to all victims of
          violence against women and domestic violence;
          c ) promote international co-operation with a view to eliminating
          violence against women and domestic violence;
          d ) provide support and assistance to organisations and law
          enforcement agencies to effectively co-operate in order to adopt
          an integrated approach to eliminating violence against women
          and domestic violence; and (b) contribute to the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and promote substantive equality between women and men, including by empowering women.

          Now…. this is supposed to be an all encompassing document to guide what will become law in the EU with regard to Domestic Violence.

          I’ll give no prise for anyone who spots the 50% of the population NOT covered by this…. is eye-poppingly biased in favour of women, with out a single acknowledgement of male victims of domestic violence.

          Niamh… do you still feel the need to ask the question, why do I know (not ‘believe’, but ‘know’) that feminism has nothing to offer male victims of domestic violence?
          I hope I have answered it for you.
          Again, I do not blame feminism for my bad choice of partner, I see feminism as an impediment to male victims of domestic violence seeking help, as evidenced in the wording of the convention above.

          I would also urge any gay men to look into this Convention, as it does not have any protections for you either… either of you. The same goes for trans-gender persons in relationships… and pretty much anyone who was not born a woman.

          1. :-Joe

            Very interesting…

            Reminds of the protests at the british parliament over the past few years demanding the law is changed to be more inclusive for male victims of spusal abuse and divorced men’s rights with their children.

            Looks like you’ve been building that cannon of info for a while, cocked and at the ready…


          2. :-Joe

            I don’t know what “spusal” is meant to be either…

            At least three strikes in this thread….

            Ok I’m out, that’s all I can do after that one…


          3. Clampers Outside!

            Thanks Joe… “building a cannon” makes it sound like I was planning a fight :)

            It is difficult to structure an argument that goes against mainstream ‘feelings’ about such an emotive topic that has been shaded with half truths by feminism for five or six decades.

            I was a year in paid rehab, and counseling, when my group told me I needed to look at one to one counseling specifically about that past relationship (My drinking got out of hand because I drank out of fear, and desire for escape from a partner I was incapable of getting away from).
            The group described to me how my entire demeanor changed when I spoke about my ex-partner – my physical demeanor, voice, eye contact, everything changed, my body rigid, my speech clinical and precise, and oddly my tendency to defend her actions no matter what. And that was a year and a half after the relationship ended.
            I had pleaded with her for years to leave me, until she did, not because I wanted it though, it was ‘leaving on my own terms’ as she put it. Funny how things go, two and a half years into the relationship I was told ‘if you leave me a I’ll make your life a living hell’… five years later she said ‘I’m not getting dumped by an alcoholic’… where does one go, eh? Anyway, I digress.

            I got the one to one counseling my group recommended and within a few sessions I was able to admit to myself that I was in an abusive relationship… and not make excuses for it, and her behaviour, in my head.
            That was a HUGE step for me, being able to admit it to myself and believe myself when I said… “I was in an abusive relationship”.

            A couple of years passed, and I put into practice a lot of what I had learned in counseling and two years of group. Everything was going smooth, considering the history, I wasn’t getting down, I was finding it easier to put it all behind me, then one day… BOOM!
            I found myself in a state of extreme anger, and an erratic emotional state over a few days and I had to call my counselor. I did. What we figured was that, on our last time around I’d learnt to accept the situation but I’d never properly looked at it, or processed it, and when I did the realisation of what I went through overwhelmed me to the point I couldn’t even go to work. Apparently displaying symptoms of ptsd, according to my counselor, we worked on it. He reckoned it was a one off breakdown and I didn’t need worry of it happening again. It was an episode not at all uncommon, even for the time for it took for it to resurface and to hit home.

            I would not be so heavy into the subject of DV were it not for the fact that I’m literally in it, in the middle of it, and I did not choose to be in it, as no one chooses to spend the best part of a decade with an abusive partner.

            All that is now coming up on five years since… or there abouts.

            A ‘cannon’ ?
            …. I think it’s more to do with the fact that I needed to understand what is and what was really going on, not just for my own situation, but those I’ve met along the way.

            The good news is, for me personally, I’m through the rabbit hole, and out the other side. It can be done :)

          4. Deluded

            Interesting points there Clampers.
            Can I ask you why you think this is so?
            (ie why the “Istanbul Convention” does not deal with violence committed by women)

          5. :-Joe

            Fair play to you Clampers, not many would be so open and honest about something so specific and personal that is rarely talked about.

            You’ve certainly enlightened me on a few facts to think about in the future and not for the first time.

            I’d be interested to know if you ever tried self hypnosis or hynotherapy.?

            Ye that whole “cannon” thing was meant as a play on words “cannon of work or study” not in an agressive reactionary sense… I don’t think it makes any sense at all?

            I seem to like some words and try to jam them into sentances while changing the meaning in my own head sometimes,… Must be something to do with keeping the seratonin flowing ….

            The lighter version of a mental illness….


          6. Clampers Outside!

            In it’s full name – “The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention)”

            It’s in the piece itself – there is no reference to violence against men by women – there is vice versa; and there is no reference to protecting men from violent women – there is vice versa.
            The Istanbul Convention only speaks of women victims; It frames violent perpetrators as only men.

            While this may at first appear to be nothing, when in law this will have wider implications. Where do men go when they have an abusive partner if the law in this regard does not recognise them as a victim because they are male? They will only have recourse through the law outside of domestic violence law and through standard assault charges, and there are big implications for this as it downgrades female domestic violence against men.

            There’s also a whole raft of issues around the gender definitions in it too –
            The ‘gender’ definitions are based on social theory derived from feminism and none of the definitions are recognised by the UN. This has legal implication also.

            Basically, it is a convention on domestic violence that frames domestic violence as something that only happens to women.

      2. :-Joe

        Very interesting points,

        I can see your point of view about that article but I still think the details are valid as a point of view against the eulagising of the perpetrators and I honestly, didn’t feel ir was from some mad raving lunatic ideaological bent.

        I’ve had experiences of people on both sides, gender speaking of the equation being perpetrators and victims.

        It’s a very complex issue and you’re argument unltimately make a very good point, imperical evidence based science will show us the way forward, how we get there is another thing.

        Glad to hear you’ve overcome the adversity….


        1. Clampers Outside!

          Agreed on the eulogising. But the article would have been a proper DV article and not a feminist one if it had applied the same discussion of eulogising to all perpetrators, and there is no shortage of example perps on the female side… as the BS list above shows.

          The writers intention is very clearly put in that she views it as a ‘misogyny’ problem, and exactly that, without need for any interpretation.
          It’s that one sided view that is a problematic to a fuller more rounded whole view of DV.

          1. :-Joe

            You’re right what you are saying from your point of view about the wider issue of the whole DV issue being framed within a narrow border by both sides.

            I don’t see the overt feminist angle at all just anger and frustration from possibly a narrow point of view based on true statistics that men usually are the perpetrators and women have had to do a lot struggling over rights.

            Unfortunately this is all true and we are living with the frustration of a long history of accepted inequality most decent people would despise today.

            Feminism represents that source of frustration to many people reulting in an inability to take it seriously. As a result this renders it weak and innefctual taking away it’s original power and it’s whole point in general.

            I wish there was a new movement and a rebranding to solve this problem IMHO(PLEASE DONT VIRTUALLY KILL ME.. joking) Something like the humanist movement and let’s move on even from all these letters bunched together… LGBT+ etc etc. I can’t keep up with it…. Humanism!…. simple!

            I do agree with almost everything the author said, it is seriously disturbing that a perpertrator, however guilty is buried alongside the victims without an actual criminal investigation to find whatever truth can be gleened from the facts.

            Perhaps that is more of a problem with the nature of catholic funerals having to take place within a traditionally set and rigid timeframe.

            I’ll leave it as being another quantum situation.
            You’re both right at the same time and definitely not wrong…


      1. Saturday Night Newsround

        No worries, Clamps, free and open discussion is the only way to progress on this subject and generally.

    1. Saturday Night Newsround

      Indeed association may not be causation, that’s presumably why this article’s conclusion is the following: “without full State reports into all cases of filicide-suicides, it is not possible to ascertain what exactly is causing these crimes and take steps to prevent them occurring in future.”

      Statement of the bleeding obvious, I would have thought, but funnily enough it’s left to Broadsheet to say it.

      Odd that…

      1. Salmon of Nollaig

        Not sure what you mean by that, Rotide.

        I read the reference to GAA involvement as included to illustrate the point that (to quote you above) “these people were to all outward signs and up to a certain point , actual pillars of the community and devoted their children.”

        1. rory

          Rotide is suggesting that a lot of these people were involved in the GAA, so the GAA must have caused the behaviour.*
          He’s suggesting this to highlight the fallacious reasoning behind those who blindly assume that anti-depressants were the reason for the murder-suicides.
          He is agreeing with Jake38 said above, that ‘correlation does not imply causation.’
          *(It’s also a nice play on Jake38’s use of the word ‘association’.)

          As Pieta house has said, reasons for each example of suicide are multifaceted and complex, often with no single cause. Why can’t the same be said for murder-suicide?

          1. Orla

            Rotide is talking pure poppycock, he can’t help himself, has to have a view on all subjects whether he has experience or facts or not.

          2. Saturday Night Newsround

            Thanks for the clarification :-)

            You are absolutely right that the reasons for each of the above crimes may be different and indeed may not be a single reason but a combination of reasons. That doesn’t mean that the question of medication patterns and their impact shouldn’t be looked at. Equally it doesn’t mean this should be the sole matter looked at.

            It’s clear the inquest system isn’t designed to conduct this sort of inquiry and some sort of mechanism needs to be set up and yes it does need to look at all the possible contributing factors including medication.

          3. Saturday Night Newsround

            Just to say also I don’t see anything above saying anti-depressants were the sole cause of any of these incidents, just that the possibility that they may have contributed is something which should be looked at. What’s the big deal about this? It makes common sense.

  8. louislefronde

    Well done Broadsheet this is an excellent and well researched article. I didn’t realise there were so many cases in Ireland over the last ten to fifteen years. Certainly there have been quite a few in America which sometimes don’t quite get the attention partly because its such a big country. But this number in Ireland, it begs the question why? and furthermore is this a cultural phenomena (doubtful) so there is perhaps an underlying cause.

  9. moould

    1. No further details of Ms Palmer’s background were given and it has not been reported whether or not she was on anti-depressants at the time of her death.

    2. It was not reported whether or not these prescription drugs were anti-depressants.

    3. No further details are reported of Mr Byrne’s background or medical history, nor was it stated whether he was on anti-depressants at the time of the deaths.

    4. There are no further reports of Mr Fox’s background or medical history, nor is it stated whether he was on anti-depressants at the time of the deaths.

    5. There are no further reports of Mr Crowley’s background or medical history.

    6. No further details of Mr McCloin’s background or medical history were reported, nor was it stated if he was on anti-depressants at the time of the deaths.

    7. No details of Mrs Grace’s medical history were reported nor was it stated if she was on anti-depressants at the time of the deaths.

    8. (No mention)

    9. It was further reported that medication was found in her home, although details of this medication was not given.

    10. “Mrs Gibbs had been prescribed a number of anti-depressants within the previous month but had come off them herself as she felt they had not suited her.” Cases factually linked to anti-depressants: 1

    11. It was not reported whether she was on anti-depressant medication.

    12. “Mrs Kenneally-Owens had been diagnosed with post-natal depression and was on medication.” anti-depressants not specified

    13. It was not reported whether either Mr or Mrs Dunne were on medication for depression at the time of their deaths.

    14. It is not stated whether or not Ms Innes had a history of depression or was on anti-depressants at the time of the deaths.

    15. Dr Michelle Mellotte told the inquest that she had prescribed anti-depressants to Mr McElhill when he attended her practice in September 2007. Cases factually linked to anti-depressants: 2

    16. It was not reported whether or not Mr Flood had been prescribed anti-depressants.

    17. Although he had been prescribed anti-depressants, there was no trace of prescription drugs in his system at the time of his death.

    18. It was not reported whether or not Mr McCarthy was suffering from depression or had been prescribed anti-depressants.

    19. No details were given of Mr Chada’s medical history or motive for the killing nor was it reported whether he was taking anti-depressants.

    19. (no mention)

    20. It was not reported whether or not Mr Velocci suffered from depression or was taking anti-depressants at the time of the crash.

    21. (no mention)

    So out of 21 cases, you’ve managed to factually link two to anti-depressants. The rest is conjecture

    1. Salmon of Nollaig

      1. Palmer: released from in-patient psychiatric care. What medication was she prescribed while in hospital? Was she still taking it? If not, what withdrawal procedure was followed. Relevant question. Good on you Broadsheet for asking it.

      2. Regarding Burke, it’s stated he was on medication. If it’s important enough to state, then what these prescription drugs were is relevant, surely? Burke had recently sought help for depression. If they weren’t anti-depressants, what were they? This is a man who killed his daughter and himself. If it’s important enough to mention he was on medication, why not say what it was? The question of whether it might have been anti-depressants is worth raising without you throwing a tantrum.

      3 – 8. 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21 Broadsheet has been quite open that there is no evidence of anti-depressants in such case, although it’s stating the obvious to say it would have be helpful if the inquests/trials had clarified what psychiatric medication, if any, was being taken.

      9. Palmer had sought help for depression shortly before she killed her two sons in a brutal fashion. By all accounts she was a loving mother. If medication was found in her house it is highly relevant to ask what this was. Why did the reports mention medication at all unless it was of significance e.g. psychiatric medication.

      10. You’ve acknowledged anti-depressants were or had been taken by Lynn Gibbs.

      11. Madeline O’Neill had recently been released from psychiatric care, it is highly likely that she had been prescribed psychiatric medication while in care and following her release. That is the reality of psychiatric care.

      12. If Nollaig Kenneally was given medication in response to post-natal depression the medication was obviously anti-depressants. That’s why they’re called that. Nuff said.

      15. You’ve acknowledged anti-depressants were or had been taken by McElhill.

      17. You’re missing the point about this one. If John Butler had been prescribed anti-depressants but they were not in his system at the time of his death it necessarily follows that he was not taking his prescribed psychiatric medication. This ties in to the point about withdrawing from anti-depressants. You’re presupposing this post is against anti-depressants. I don’t read it that way. I just read that it’s in favour of their safe and informed use according to guidelines (which warn against sudden withdrawal) Not an unreasonable point of view and one that pharmaceutical companies and doctors should surely subscribe to?

      19. As with Palmer and O’Neill, Michael Kearney had recently been released from in-patient psychiatric care and was being monitored within the community after a suicide attempt in which he tried to kill a young woman. Of course Kearney was or had been on psychiatric medication, which he was or supposed to be keeping taking. He wouldn’t have been released otherwise.

      The picture which appears from Broadsheet’s longer account is completely different from what you make out and is entirely compatible with the points made at the start, which simply suggest that these matters might be worth looking at. I don’t understand your reaction at all.

      1. rory

        Broadsheet is suggesting the anti-depressants caused people to commit murder-suicide. Broadsheet is suggesting this without proof that a lot of them were on anti-depressants.

        You don’t see anything wrong with that?

        1. Saturday Night Newsround

          Broadsheet has specifically pointed out that there is no report of many of the perpetrators were on anti-depressants. It has also identified the cases in which the perpetrators (approx 1/3 of them) were described as having been prescribed anti-depressants or medication prescribed after attendance at a doctor or psychiatrist for mental health issues (which is most likely anti-depressants). It has specifically stated that the information in the public domain on these killings appears incomplete and suggested that in future full State reports should be compiled in each case which includes a consideration of all factors including looking at prescribed psychiatric medication patterns (something which has been highlighted already by the Guardian in the article above as a possible – not certain – because)

          What on earth is your beef with this and why do you keep saying that it has been said anti-depressants cause people to commit murder-suicide when this was not said in the post?

          1. rory

            “The dramatic increase in filicide-suicide appears to largely coincide with an increase in the use of anti-depresssants.

            Although in many cases the medical history of the perpetrators is not fully detailed, it appears that a number of the perpetrators had either recently commenced or ceased taking such medication.

            A question arises as to whether or not this may have resulted in an extreme response to stresses, which might not otherwise have occurred.”

            How is that not suggesting that anti-depressants caused people to commit murder-suicide?

          2. Caroline™

            It’s not suggesting anti-depressants are the cause. It’s providing a reasonable level of possible correlation, which merits investigation to establish whether it’s a causative factor. I think it would be a disservice not to investigate this. It is society’s duty. People have spent anguished years trying to establish links between certain medications (not necessarily anti-depressants) and suicide in young people. Sudden and dramatic changes in behaviour with devastating consequences should lead to an investigation of all possible factors.

          3. rory

            In fairness, (and I don’t want to turn this into an argument because I think you’re a good person) but check what your comment is saying.

            You’re saying that the article isn’t suggesting that anti-depressants causes people to commit murder suicide.
            Then you say that the article is ‘providing a reasonable level of possible correlation’*** which is literally a fancier way of saying that the article is suggesting that anti-depressants causes people to commit murder-suicide.

            Further personalised translation: The article is suggesting that anti-depressants causes murder-suicide. Caroline thinks this idea is reasonable and should be investigated further. In the intro, the article suggests anti-depressants can cause murder-suicide, which suggests that is a primary point of the article, but Caroline is using her fancy writing skills again to present anti-depressants as one of many possible factors, in a way that insinuates that the article is presenting anti-depressants in the same level headed way, even though it’s not. Caroline also tries to beef up her argument by making a plea to authority, using a dramatic image of ‘anguished people’ who spend many years trying to make the same connection as the article does.

            ***which I don’t think the article does by the way, at least not particularly well. It can’t prove what the state of affairs was, medication wise, for a lot of these cases, but the article suggests it’s caused by the medication anyway. Such theorising (without referencing any particular proof or precedents for this theorising) is sloppy journalism.

          4. Caroline™

            Correlation is not “a fancy way” of saying something causes something. Famously, correlation is not causation.
            You need to be clear about the difference between those things.

            “Appears to coincide” – that’s a quote from the article. That doesn’t mean “appears to cause”. That wording acknowledges that it could be an unrelated coincidence, or it could be two events which coincide due to a causative link. The article also points out that, because we don’t have enough information, because the information wasn’t gathered, we can’t know. I don’t think that’s a good thing, because I think it’s reasonable, in all the circumstances, which include the acknowledged potency of the medication, and without stigmatising people who take anti-depressants for whatever reason (including people who take them for non-mental health issues) to at least consider it as a causative factor. And yes I think it is unlikely to be a simple cause and effect relationship. I agree the article is focusing on a single factor, but I don’t think that’s unreasonable. You have to make a clear case for each factor to be investigated.

            Also, I didn’t appeal to authority. I was making a comparison between the many instances where medication was taken and caused a sudden and catastrophic change in behaviour. People eventually went looking for answers in the medication. Can anti-malaria tablets cause you to kill? Can acne medication make you suicidal? How did those suicide warnings get on the box of anti-depressants? My question is: how do we decide when those questions are worth asking?

            BTW if you want a discussion rather than an argument you might lose the bizarre snideness. You’re lucky I like you.

          5. rory

            “It’s providing a reasonable level of possible correlation, which merits investigation to establish whether it’s a causative factor.”
            Reads as:
            The article is saying that there is a enough anti-depressants and murder suicide going together, which raises the possibility that it caused the murder-suicide.

            i.e. The article is suggesting that anti-depressants caused the murder-suicides.

            With regards you pointing out the use of ‘coincide’, read it in the context of the quote (in the reply to me you initially replied to.) The use of the word coincide, with the other two paragraphs, is clearly the article suggesting that anti-depressants cause people to commit murder-suicide.

            I think the use of the ‘appealing to authority’ fallacy was inaccurate.
            While I thought the inclusion of the ‘anguished people’ was used to beef up your argument, I think I cited the wrong fallacy.
            I think that’s the right one. In the context of your comment, your inclusion of these people comes across like that. Their attempts to find a connection doesn’t necessarily mean there is one.

            Sorry if this sounds snide. Not sure how to change it without losing my points. This is turning into an argument, isn’t it.
            Nice of you to say that last sentence there.

          6. Caroline™

            Hmm, maybe there’s less difference between our views if I imagine it as a hypothesis. You have something you want to find out (“why is this happening?”), then you need to examine your data for something worth testing that looks like a possible explanation (“some factors are notable”), then you finally frame your hypothesis:

            “A question arises as to whether or not this may have resulted in an extreme response to stresses, which might not otherwise have occurred.”

            I think the statement above is appropriately tentative – it’s suggesting it’s a possibility. But really, in a way, you’re right: to test a hypothesis, you test it as if it were a statement of truth. So you have to at least consider it as a possible truthful explanation (accepting that it might be disproven). And the article can be read consistent with that.

            Do you think there’s not sufficient evidence to put forward this hypothesis, that doing so is wreckless?

          7. rory

            I do, in terms of my personal experience/what I know*, and in terms of the content of the article, which ultimately provides scant evidence to back up that suggestion.

            *From my experience/knowledge anti-depressants can have side effects, but it would be a big stretch to suggest that they could cause someone to murder. Then again, there may be info on the subject that I don’t know about, that proves anti-depressants can do that. But again, said info is not in the article.

            With regard your 2nd last paragraph there:
            The quote in the comment you initially replied to, suggesting that anti-depressants caused people to commit murder-suicide, and sticking it in the intro to the article, doesn’t seem tentative to me; it’s the article stating it’s case before going through the evidence. (Or lack thereof, in my opinion.)
            I also think ‘going through the evidence’ serves a second function on a subtextual level (whether intended or not), appealing to that part of you** that is interested to hear about real life crime.

            **Not you ‘you’. I mean everybody.

            Sorry for being a d!(k earlier.

          8. Caroline™

            True, but the thing is, evidence is rarely created or gathered on spec. If there is evidence about anti-depressants out there, it would almost certainly have been gathered in response to a hypothesis like this one. If you don’t ask the question, you can’t get the evidence to prove you’re right. So to repeat my question from above: when do you decide the question is worth asking? Clearly you don’t think the threshold has been reached in this instance, and that’s fair enough. We can disagree on that.

            (The article actually throws out another theory with even less to back it up – prior sexual abuse.)

            Don’t worry about earlier, it’s all good.

          9. rory

            Asking/researching if anti-depressants can cause someone to murder, and presenting an article that suggests as much (with scant proof), are 2 different things.

        2. Saturday Night Newsround

          In circumstances where a number of the perpetrators, quite likely as much as 1/3, were on anti-depressants I see absolutely nothing wrong with saying that it is worth looking at whether an adverse reaction to either a recent prescription or unregulated withdrawal might have been one of the combination of factors which tipped some of them over the edge, and I say that as a long-term anti-depressant user myself.

  10. louislefronde

    Not necessarily conjecture, it raises a question? If the mainstream media actually did its job (which it hasn’t) then they would be investigating these stories and assigning resources to proper investigative journalism, which they don’t. A question has been raised, it is legitimate to do so.

      1. Salmon of Nollaig

        The Satanism/conspiracy theory strawman is so handy for when people don’t like something but arent’ capable of dismissing it on its own merits, isn’t it?

  11. Saturday Night Newsround

    Mould, if you actually read the comments responding to yours above you’ll see that both commenters made the fairly obvious point that ‘medication’ specifically referenced in inquest reports as having been given in response to depression was almost certainly anti-depressants. If even 1/3 of these perpetrators had recently been on anti-depressants the possible effect of taking or withdrawing from these is relevant, at the very least the question of what medication they were taking and the extent which it contributed to their behaviour is something which needs to be explored and that is the point the article is making. Also, I thought you were gone for good or has Salmon succeeded in enticing you back? ;-)

  12. Junkface

    Ireland is quite a depressive country in a lot of ways. I’m not sure how many times medication has had an effect on these kind of family killings. I think there’s a possessiveness on behalf of the fathers who kill, about their entire family that is very old fashioned, outdated, arrogant and wrong. No one owns the right to treat their family however they like.

  13. moould

    if BS had found a trend here, I’d be clapping them on the back. but they haven’t. there is literally the sort of stuff that Alex Jones and all the other conspiracy nuts are into – shocked to see BS pushing it

    there is no evidence for this link. none

    “In 171 cases of murder-suicide, only two of the perpetrators tested positive for antidepressants.”

    Eliason, S. (2009). Murder-Suicide: A Review of the Recent Literature. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 37:3:371-376.

    1. Saturday Night Newsround

      Many airlines in the US monitor closely pilots on anti-depressants – even before the Germanwings pilot incident – to make sure they’re taking their meds.

      At least that’s what says.

      Why is it a conspiracy theory to raise the possibility that improperly administered anti-depressants can cause impulsive uncharacteristic behavior, possibly pushing people over the edge.

      1. Salmon of Nollaig

        Moould, all you have to do is to search google books for ‘murder-suicide’ and ‘anti-depressants’ to see that the question of whether not anti-depressants or misuse of same can contribute to murder-suicide, while not yet conclusively determined, is not something which can be automatically eliminated as a ‘conspiracy theory’. The paper you link to expresses one point of view; there are many reputable psychiatrists who are not as certain.

        1. Sibling of Daedalus

          Guardian article on Seroxat/Paxil and possible murder-suicide link.

          The link to Irish murder-suicides is something worth exploring. At the very least a connection needs to be ruled out.

          It’s also important for people whose condition worsens after coming off anti-depressants abruptly or taking them irregularly to know what may be causing the zaps, mood swings etc., that it is chemical and controllable and that even if they’ve determined to come off them going back on the anti-depressants for the purposes of phasing them out gradually may be a better course of action. Even when you’ve read all of this and even experienced it a few times previously, it can be hard to dismiss the utter blackness and/or anger which can descend on, say, day 3-4 without tablets (less if the dose is higher) as purely chemical. But often, it largely is and things that felt perfectly reasonable and even sensible during this time can, in hindsight, be serious mistakes.

          Given how readily they are prescribed, and their serious side effects if abruptly discontinued, it’s outrageous that these tablets are so expensive in Ireland, and that, in the absence of a medical card, appointments for prescription renewal require funding at the patient’s own expense. Just another stress and anxiety-causing thing that may tip the balance for people suffering from depression. I wonder if the medical profession gives any consideration to this?

          1. Sibling of Daedalus

            Orla, by ‘serious mistakes’ I am not necessarily referring to killing people, nor do I endorse such killing, nor am I suggesting that all or any people suffering side-effects from coming off anti-depressants necessarily kill other people. I think there would probably have to be something extra e.g. inherent capacity for violence against others in the person already for this to occur, although it’s certainly the case that withdrawal symptoms uncap one’s nastier side, they don’t necessarily create it if it’s not there to begin with. Although one could argue that such a side may arise because of trauma etc. Unfortunately to understand why these things occur may involve trying to get inside the head of people one would otherwise be repulsed by. Very sorry to read about your experience and I agree that it is equally important when looking at such matters to remember the horrendous perspective and experience of the victims of violence, both male and female.

          2. Orla

            @ Clampers

            You’re biased, you’ve shown that multiple times. On the whole, men are the perpetrators. Don’t make this about you, your situation was in the minority.

          3. Janet, I ate my avatar

            Orla I’m very glad you are no longer in that situation. Curious, have you had counseling since ? I have heard of more men than would like to admit suffering violence at the hands of their partners, your perspective may make it harder for you to be objective and understandably so. I left an abusive relationship and was angry for years after don’t let it rob you of any more time is what I am trying to say.

          4. Clampers Outside!

            “your situation was in the minority” so what.
            Both your situation and mine are in the minority when looking at the whole picture.
            We should show solidarity for each others situation, not compete for victimhood medals the way feminism teaches victims to perpetuate their anguish.
            Recovery means you will no longer see yourself as a victim. It works. Please don’t listen to feminist bull about victimhood, it perpetuates it, and inhibits recovery, and does untold damage by entrenching those feelings in the person who was victimised by their perpetrator. But once out from under that damaging relationship one should seek professional help, not ideologically driven pseudo science by crack pot feminists with an agenda that leads persons to competing on levels of victimhood.

            Maintaining a victimhood mentality, and looking for help from a movement that promotes it will not help the person recover.

            If you continue to see yourself as a victim after the fact, you will remain a victim, and that is not recovery.

            I wish you well.

      1. Saturday Night Newsround

        Think its probably more linked to coverage of possible anti depressant impact on recent non familicide murder suicides such as the killing of a young man in Bray some years ago… this is well out of the ‘conspiracy theory’ bracket.

  14. St. John Smythe

    Its funny that parents often fret if their kids get into punk or metal, start wearing black or whatever.
    Its the GAA players, the swim coaches, the respected businessman, the priest, the person outwardly doing it all right and looking clean-cut that then turn out to be the most dangerous among us.

    If my kids grow up and tell me one today they are starting to dabble in GAA or the Lions Club or some other dark art like that, I starting pulling out the Crass and Megadeath albums and steer them in the right direction.

    1. Peter Dempsey

      Ugh! Crass, so po-faced with their shock value Penis Envy, Reality Asylum anger tactics. Bunch of middle class misanthropes like Chumbawba. On the other hand Killing Is My Business And Business Is Good is excellent

  15. Jimmy Ireland

    Filicide – the killing of one’s children.

    Familicide – the killing of one’s spouse and at least one child.

    After all the fuss about the media supposedly ignoring the wife Clodagh last week, I’d be getting my ‘cides’ right before the permoffended brigade mobilise again. They have people on standby 24/7 you know.

  16. Joe Small

    I’m not sure what Broadsheet are trying to achieve. They have shone no new light on any thing. This lazy amateurish pseudo-psychoanalysis by a website best at publicising things that look like Ireland is unnecessary and even offensive.
    I think you’re out of your depth Broadsheet.

    1. Errol

      Small by name small by nature. All I see in this piece is a well researched reasonable request for proper consideration of all relevant issues, long overdue imo. Back to work with you and better luck next time.

    2. :-Joe

      I may not be bigger than you but to be fair, what is wrong with raising the issue from a “Broad..” point of view and creating a good debate around it?

      It certainly opened my eyes to a few previously unknown ideas thanks to the commentators here.


    1. :-Joe

      I watch a lot of documentaries and here’s some interesting ones I’ve seen recently in the area of mental health issues relating to murder and the abuse of prescription drugs… if anyone is interested :

      Prescription Thugs
      A follow up to an earlier good doco “BSF”on the abuse of PED’s in sport.

      The Mystery of Murder – A Horizon Guide 2015

      A summary of a lot of the work from previous BBC doco’s over the years.
      e.g. the previous Doco on the psychology of psychopath’s and sociapths.



        1. :-Joe

          Hehe, damn you brain….

          I just figured out(embarrassingly) where I went wrong with that and why I probably need medical help for a service on the auld noggin…

          A few dodgy brincells but I wasn’t far off after all… It was “canon” not “cannon”…
          One “n” and the whole damn brain goes into meltdown..

          It’s amazing how suddenly simple obvious things make no sense at all for a moment….

          ..Alzheimers here we go.


          1. Deluded

            Ha! That misspelling itched!
            A “canon of work” is a group of writings that are generally accepted as representing a field. I think another term may have been more appropriate.

      1. :-Joe

        BTW: The BBC scientist/presenter Michael Mosley has a great doco on the science and proven facts behind dieting and controlling your weight.

        Worth looking into not just for the obvious benefits of losing the Wine/Beer/Whiskey/Jager belly like me…


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