Sunday, 25 July 2010

An Unfathomable Crime

There was a shocking story reported on Friday where a 15-year-old boy had hacked his mother and younger sister to death in their home.

He himself reported it to the police, saying he had injured his hand. The authorities found him in a Tsuen Wan park with the blood-stained chopper and gloves in his backpack.

The police then broke into the family home and found the two bodies lying in a pool of blood, their heads nearly severed by the force of the attack.

The father was at work at the 24-hour restaurant he owned across the street from the flat when the crime was committed.

People are trying to come to terms with the horrific incident, as the boy was well-mannered according to outsiders and the vice-principal said he had good grades in school.

The police are theorizing that the boy may have an undiagnosed mental illness, but the family has no history of mental illness.

Consultant psychiatrist Edwin Yu Chi-shing, of Kwai Chung Hospital, said it was possible for a person to suffer from a mental illness without the family knowing.

"In the early stage of schizophrenia and psychosis, some symptoms like sleeping badly and becoming quieter cannot be easily detected," he said. "It's possible for a person to be found to be suffering from mental illness after a tragedy happens."

He explained that delusions and hallucinations were common symptoms of mental illness and some sufferers withdrew into their own worlds. A person suffering delusions might turn on close relatives and attack them because they saw them as enemies, Yu said.

While it seems inexplicable, how can the father even begin to understand it all? He went to see his son in the hospital for treatment of his wounds and an assessment on the boy's mental state.

What do you say to your son after he has killed your wife and daughter?

If one can have an undiagnosed mental illness, there could possibly be many more thousands of people who could crack at any moment.

Why is this happening and what can people do to ensure they and their loved ones have a healthy outlook on life?

While Hong Kong sees many people cracking under pressure, China is too and more needs to be done to educate the public about symptoms and signs and encourage people to get help.

Although mental illness is looked down upon especially in Chinese society, it cannot be ignored any longer.

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