Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Wilful Blindness Is Not The Solution

Nervous Breakdown
Several years ago I visited a friend, she had a female guest there also, a happily married mother. What started out as a pleasant afternoon, became serious rather quickly when the female guest had a minor nervous breakdown. In the following weeks her condition deteriorated and the consequences escalated, such that an unpleasant scene she subsequently created at the business she ran lead to her being forced to spend some time involuntarily in a psychiatric hospital for treatment for her condition. The change in the health of the mother had a drastic impact upon her family, including her primary-school-aged children.

Prior to the episode at her work it was clear that the mother should seek professional medical and mental health assistance. Her behaviour enlivened the possibility that she be asked to submit to a non-urgent mental health assessment via a Justices Examination Order (JEO). Such an Order is issued by a Magistrate or Justice of the Peace (JP) and would involve the mother submitting to an examination by a doctor or authorised mental health practitioner. Any person can make an application for a JEO, including a relative of the person to be assessed. I have seen a JEO used in greater family law proceedings. I suggested to my friend it is something the husband / father might seriously consider in the circumstances, were he truly concerned about the welfare of his children.

Once the episode at the work of the mother occurred that decision was taken out of the hands of the husband / father and the benefits of an early intervention were lost.

Manipulative False Suicidal Ideation Claim
In light of that nervous breakdown situation, consider someone who makes a manipulative false suicidal ideation claim. They have evidenced their bullying, emotional blackmail and emotional abuse to maintain adherence to their narrative and / or control the amount of attention they get. It is also possibly evidence of self-destructive behaviour on the part of the author of the false claim.

The maker of the false claim is responsible for these developments, which are a consequence of decisions they made voluntarily. There is now good evidence to support the contention that the person who made the false claim should seek professional medical and mental health assistance. It can be evidence of Borderline Personality Disorder. Their role with their employer is also entitled to be reviewed. In that regard someone who makes a manipulative false suicidal ideation claim is not someone who should be lecturing at health conferences.

Consider the implications if the person who made the manipulative false suicidal ideation claim also has the role of the primary carer of the children of the relationship. It was the mother who had the nervous breakdown I mentioned earlier.

In Jackson & Macek [2015] FCCA 1656 Meyers J said at paragraph [37]:
“The Court must consider the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence. It is a paramount consideration with primacy over all others, and it is a consideration the Court gives greatest weight of those condensations at s.60CC [of the Family Law Act 1975] when determining what is in the best interests of the child.”

Relevantly here:
  • The suicidal ideation of the mother puts in question her mental health
  • Does the mental health of the mother pose a risk to the children, in that the children will suffer physical or psychological harm from coming into contact with the mother or spending time or living with the mother?
  • Will the mother abuse the children or neglect the children or subject the children to family violence as a result?
(See Jackson & Macek [2015] FCCA 1656 per Meyers J at paragraph [45])

In Hunter & Morrison (contravention) [2014] FamCA 198 the mother made statements about her alleged suicidal tendencies to and in the presence of the children (per Tree J at para [28]). The emergence of the alleged suicidal ideation of the mother caused the father to reconsider the safety of the children (See para [57])

The question then arose:
  • Did the mother present a physical and emotional risk to the children by virtue of her alleged suicidal ideation? (See para [33])

The Court found that:
  • “it was reasonable for the father to seek clarification of the opinion of the treating psychologist of the mother specifically in relation to the prospect of the mother experiencing and, if she experienced, entertaining, suicidal ideation whilst having the children in her care” (See para [52])
  • “the father believed that it was necessary to withhold the children from their holiday contact with the mother in order to protect them from risk of harm, should she experience or entertain or act upon suicidal ideation whilst the children were in her care” (See para [55])
  • the belief of the father was based on reasonable grounds (See para [55])

The consequences that flowed from confronting the reality of the condition of the mother who was the friend of my friend were profound, both for the mother and her family. Early or earlier intervention may have provided a less profound impact upon those involved.

Ignoring the reality of what making the manipulative false suicidal ideation claim evidenced will not make it go away. Denying the benefits early intervention can bring to the situation reduces the treatment and management options for the entire situation.

Whilst the maker of the manipulative false suicidal ideation claim may revel in their success after seemingly achieving their attention-seeking or narrative controlling goal, the reality of their condition and disposition will not go away. The need for professional medical and mental health assistance will continue and by ignoring early intervention, the available treatment options are reduced.

Other consequences flow from making the suicide threat. Where there are children involved in the relationship, the person making the suicide threat should expect that threat to be the subject of a Child Concern Report with the Department of Children’s Services. It is conceivable that the parent not making the threat may then be fearful for the safety of the children  and concerned about the ongoing mental health of the parent who made the threat. Consequently the parent not making the threat may require that time spent with the children by the parent who made the threat be supervised by a responsible adult.

Whatever was the personal situation of the maker of the manipulative false suicidal ideation claim before it was made, it changed upon their voluntary act of making the claim. That act opened the door to scrutiny of their circumstances and if such scrutiny is not welcome in the life of the author, perhaps that is something which should have been considered before the claim was made. They have exposed their condition and their circumstances. Wilful blindness to the implications of that exposure is not the solution.