Barely 6 weeks after the awful tragedy in Sligo, where Shane Skeffington (20) killed his little brother Brandon (9) and himself, Ireland is once again dealing with a shocking murder/suicide involving young brothers. Jonathan O’Driscoll, aged 21, killed his twin brothers Thomas and Paddy (aged 9) and then himself, this time in Cork.
The media are divided, one newspaper states that the Gardaí believe “Jonathan flipped and killed the tragic youngsters in a spur-of-the-moment attack” while another states that the Gardaí “strongly suspected that Jonathan’s murderous last act was not a spontaneous violent combustion from a mentally ill man, but something he had planned, possibly for some time”.
Despite their unimaginable suffering, both families have behaved with unbelievably dignity and understanding throughout. Jonathan’s mother has reportedly said she already forgives him. Bernadette, a sister of the 3 boys, spoke at the funeral today and said: “To my three brothers, Jonathan, Paddy and Tom Tom, your memories of laughter that we shared together as a family growing up together; I will treasure for the rest of my life. “I will always love you and I will always miss you. Forever, our family’s heart is broken. “Also, from our hearts, we say a fond farewell to the three of ye. God will be waiting at the Gates of Heaven to take ye in.”
Reports state that Jonathan ‘doted on his younger brothers’, that all three were ‘very close’ and that ‘Jonathan made the whole family happy’. So why then did this happen? Some reports have suggested that Jonathan was a troubled young man who was ‘fixated’ with being an adopted son, while the two boys were biological children. One newspaper reported that Gardaí were investigating whether he killed his brothers ‘in a jealous rage after learning he was adopted’, but this theory was later discounted by insiders.
There are similarities between the O’Driscoll and Skeffington tragedies. In Sligo, Shane Skeffington had been receiving psychiatric treatment in the days before he killed his brother and himself. In Cork, Jonathan O’Driscoll was also receiving psychiatric treatment before he killed his brothers and himself. According to the Irish Times, he had also ‘recently engaged’ with mental health services. Another newspaper reported that Jonathan was “on a lot of medication and he had various health issues”.
A recent article by Paul Gilligan, chief executive of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services in Dublin, stated that murder-suicides are “not typically associated with mental health difficulties”. He stated that these incidents “require a great deal more premeditation and planning” than suicide alone and places the blame solely on the perpetrator: Article here. So if, as according to Mr Gilligan, murder-suicide is not caused by ‘mental health’ issues, are we to assume that Shane Skeffington and Jonathan O’Driscoll were evil murderers? I do not believe that for one second. What of the ‘care’ that these young men received shortly before these tragedies? Is it co-incidental that mental health drugs, usually SSRIs, double the risk of suicide and violence? Is it coincidental that the European Medicines Agency have warned of suicide and violence with these drugs and that they come with a black-boxed warning in the U.S.?
If these young men did not suffer from mental health issues, as Mr Gilligan suggests, then any drugs prescribed to these young men were wrongly prescribed. As a mother directly affected by a similar tragedy, whose son was also ‘recently prescribed’ these drugs beforehand, I feel a thorough investigation is required.
We have learned a lot since my son’s death in 2009. I have complied this information here for anyone who’s interested. Rest in peace to all these boys.
Considering Irish Psychiatrys’ usual defense of psychiatric drugs, it comes as no surprise that Mr Gilligan’s article has pride of place on their website, here.