Grief-stricken over her mother's suicide, a Barrackpore teenager tried to take her own life exactly one month after her mother's death.According to a close relative, despite receiving counselling from the Children's Authority, the child could not cope with the grief of her mother's suicide. The mother killed herself after the child's stepfather was killed seven weeks ago in an effort to protect the mother.
The Children's Authority, on Tuesday, stated that the public should respect the teenager's "right to privacy and confidentiality and afford her the opportunity to heal." It said the Authority had been counselling the teenager, as well as six other children in the family since the incident. The girl was found by another relative frothing from the mouth in a bedroom at her father's Kanhai South Trace home on Sunday.
She was taken to the San Fernando General Hospital where she was warded in stable condition. A bottle of paint thinners was found next to her in the bedroom. The relative said the girl asked not be visited by any family at the hospital, saying she could not see them yet. The relative said she was being monitored by a counsellor from the Children's Authority, who stayed with her in the hospital.
On July 29, her stepfather, prisons officer Robert Seecharan, 36, was killed with his own licensed firearm during a domestic dispute. His wife, Sherry Ann, 35, and one of her daughters were taken into custody and spent five days being interrogated before being released on the instruction of Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard. No charges were laid for his death, as investigators ruled it self-defence.
However, a few weeks after her husband's death, Sherry Ann took her own life by ingesting a poisonous substance at her sister's home and died before help could reach her.Relatives then blamed the police for failing to provide counselling for the woman and her children. It was later learnt that the lack of support was due to a mix-up between the Children's Authority and the Police Service's Victim and Witness Support Unit.
TREAT ENTIRE FAMILY
Clinical therapist and trauma specialist Hanif Benjamin recommended that all the children of suicide victim Sherry Ann Seecharan be given intensive therapy to cope with their loss. Benjamin, who is the president and chief executive officer of the Centre for Human Development Limited, spoke to the T&T Guardian yesterday following his return from counselling flood victims in Dominica. He said the case of this family needs to be revisited carefully to prevent further tragedy.
"Medication is a key component in helping her to heal right now. Her actions are a classic sign of depression and action needs to be taken to bring her out of that dark place very quickly."
He said the teen's family and neighbours should also be exposed to psycho-educational training. "Serious psycho-educational work needs to be done with the entire family, her environment needs to be treated as well. You cannot treat her alone and then send her back to a family that is not aware of her feelings and problems."