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TAKE ACTION ON KILLER PARENTS; Health service criticised over deaths.

Byline: BY MICHAEL McHUGH

ACTION is needed to stop suicidal parents killing their children, a health service manager warned yesterday.

Paula Kilbane was giving evidence to an Assembly Health Committee probe into the suicide of Madeleine O'Neill, 40, who killed her daughter Lauren, nine, in July 2005 in Carryduff, Co Down.

She said: "We have begun to see cases on this island where it is clear that people who are depressed and ill are taking their children with them."

In Co Wexford, Diarmuid and Lorraine Flood were found dead on Saturday with their two children. Last November, Arthur McElhill killed himself, partner Lorraine McGovern and their five children in a fire in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

A report on Mrs O'Neill's death published earlier this year found she had told her GP, a counsellor and a psychiatrist about a plan to kill her daughter and take her own life.

Despite this, nobody told her estranged husband John or gave him the opportunity to protect his daughter.

The dossier made 36 recommendations and criticised the lack of communication between health professionals and the family.

Ms Kilbane, Eastern Health and Social Services Board chief executive, said: "We will have failed in our duty if we don't act now to create a mental health service which is much more family-orientated."

Witnesses before the committee from the Eastern and Western Boards apologised to the family and said that Lauren's plight had been invisible to doctors concentrating on treating her mother.

CAPTION(S):

TRAGIC McElhill family from Omagh
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 2, 2008
Words:252
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