"It's not within our normal range to think about it" - Psychotherapist on Cavan tragedy

Trish Murphy says men need to reach out and talk

"It's not within our normal range to think about it" - Psychotherapist on Cavan tragedy

Gardaí at the secene in which five people lost their lives, including two adults and three children in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan | Image: RollingNews.ie

Investigations are continuing following a murder and suicide in Co Cavan.

Post mortems are to be carried out today on the bodies of five members of the Hawe family, who were found dead in their home in Ballyjamesduff yesterday.

The deceased have been named locally as primary school deputy principal Alan Hawe, aged in his 40s, his wife Clodagh, aged in her 30s, and their three sons - Liam (13), Niall (11), and Ryan (6).

Their bodies were found in a house at Oakdene Downs in Barconey.

It is believed that the three young boys were discovered upstairs in their bedrooms, while their parents were found downstairs.

Castlerahan National School, where the father worked and two of the boys were pupils, said it was a "terrible tragedy" for the community.

Since the year 2000, there have been more than 30 so-called murder-suicides in Ireland, about two cases per year.

More than 40 children have been killed in these incidences.

'Do not be afraid to speak'

Psychotherapist Trish Murphy told the Pat Kenny Show here on Newstalk that we have to remember this is not usual.

"The level of protection we need against it is perhaps not as high as we might feel today, in the aftermath of such a tragic event," she said. 

"This is so extraordinary, it's not within our normal range to think about it.

"Nobody in their right mind would do such a thing so there's a sense from all of us that this person deserves enormous sympathy in a sense.

"I know we are outraged, absolutely outraged - and yet we have an understanding that this person must be terribly, terribly unwell at a time like this."

Ms Murphy added that we cannot label everyone with mental health issues in the same category.

"There are people with mental health difficulties - I think everybody will have had some experience at some stage in their lives - and that does not mean that they're in any way likely to do anything even remotely like this.

"As all the mental health issues have said up-to-date, we need to talk more, we need to be able to get out of these things so they don't build to such an extent."

Asked why the majority of such cases are perpetrated by men, she said: "I think in general terms, men take action - which is why there are so many male suicides - they take action in that moment, whereas I think women would be much more internalised in their distress.

"(Women) will probably take it a lot slower, and probably let the distress seep inwards, whereas men may take action moving outwards."

She said those with mental health difficulties should not be afraid to speak out, and get help.

"You would hope that any man in distress will speak and speak of the distress - and not be afraid to be speak of it.

"That's my real concern here - is that this will create an idea that if I say anything people will think I'm about to do something - and that is not what we want.

"We want people to talk, we want them to feel comfortable, to trust that when they do speak they can be heard and understood."

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact The Samaritans on 116 123, e-mail jo@samaritans.org - or see a list of services here