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Suicide as a result of “CYFS Process” intervention, says Coroners Court.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on April 7, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Suicide as a result of “CYFS Process” intervention, says Coroners Court.
Thursday, 08.03.2007, 10:21am (GMT12)

Firstly I congratulate you on providing this forum, in a country where we supposedly have free speech, I cannot see why anyone would want it shut down. I don’t know if the individuals names help, I don’t know names..just CYFS.

I will tell this story on behalf of my sister, who is not able to share this herself. She committed suicide nearly two years ago as a result of CYFS. Five days prior to her death CYFS came in and took her only daughter away “with concrete boots on” (in her own words). My sister was 34 years old.

Later at the Coroners hearing, blame fell very fairly and squarely on CYFS “process” and it was recommended by the coroner that CYFS amend their process to prevent the type of distress this caused my sister. To this day I do not know if CYFS ever implemented the coroners recommendations. They have never told us they changed anything…At the time I thought it was some silver lining in this very dark cloud that another family would be spared from suicide, but maybe she died in vain in that way too now..

My sister was not blameless in this either, but she was a good mother. She loved her daughter very much.Her daughter was her whole reason for living. So when CYFS came in unannounced on a Friday morning to her home when her daughter was at school and said she “had” to sign the paper for 30 days, she felt VERY pressured. Her daughter was to be with a family friend she knew and trusted and so most reluctantly, she signed the paper. One of the terms was that she not “communicate” with her daughter at all. Which seems especially cruel to me…A letter came from CYFS which remained unopened in her mail box. It was short letter, offhand, stating in writing about not contacting her daughter, as if to rub salt into the wound. Thank goodness she never saw it. Also in her unread mail was part three of a correspondence course she’d been doing about positive living skills and parenting..

She was trying very hard, she was a (high functioning) sufferer of a mental heath condition called BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). One of the things that people with BPD do is alcohol or substance abuse, or gambling or risky sex (some type of risky addictive behaviour). For my sister her coping ,mechanism with the BPD was alcohol. She was an alcoholic and she also self harmed herself by cutting herself. She had been suicidal in the past but these attempts were never serious enough to succeed. She WAS in treatment for the BPD and alcoholism and had been so off and on for several years.

So she had problems..but she never to my knowledge ever hit her daughter, nor abused her verbally etc. The person she harmed was only ever herself (and yes by default I know that would have upset and therefore hurt her daughter).

We do not blame in the slightest her daughter for this. Her daughter went to the school counsellor on Thursday and expressed some problem at home (to this day we do not know what event/s caused this) but obviously something was going wrong and we had always urged her to “ask for help” if needed. So one day, she did ask for help. This must have kicked off a huge reaction as the counsellor is obligated I think to inform CYFS and CYFS dove in “concrete boots and all”. Next thing her daughter is gone. It seems a total over reaction, especially not allowing her to speak with her mother.

My sister was so ashamed this had happened she told no one but my mother and her partner and her own counsellors. She could not bear we family members know her daughter was taken, so we were not able to support her as she hit this final crisis.

She was in (out patient) treatment at Seagher House at the time and they were very supportive of her when this happened. They offering extra emergency counselling, housing etc with them over that weekend as they were very worried about my sister. They knew this might be the rug that would pull her from this world. They rang her and checked her every day. Her ex partner and now friend looked after her at his place, she was just devastated. Then on Tuesday she suddenly became peaceful and stated she was OK and wanted to go home now. She fooled everyone with this new tranquilly and went home – to kill herself.

By Thursday her ex partner was very worried as he’d had no contact with her since Tuesday night, so he left his job, bussed up the road to check her. He found her, quite dead in her car in her brand new housing NZ internal access garage, gassed. No note…the car had run out of petrol, probably pretty quickly as being a solo parent on a benefit she only put $5 or $10 a week in the damned thing. On the insistence of my Dad and with our whole hearted support, the perfectly good car was later towed away direct to the crusher…The house was also blessed…

When I saw her a few days later at the funeral home she still the same expression on her face that must have been in her mind – a terribly angry look on her face that I will never forget. When she was angry her lips would go thin and her chin go firm. They had not bothered to wash her hair and her make up was all wrong despite them having a photo. It was not the happy sparkly face she usually had. I did not want to see her but somehow i thought it may help me accept it, so I absolutely forced myself at the last minute after others assured me she looked “peaceful”. I swear I will never enter a funeral home (alive) again. I have given very clear instructions to my family NOT to view me but to cremate me quick and remember me alive.

Anyway all this is down to CYFS and their concrete boots. I cannot understand it, from media reports they seem to allow children stay with physically abusive families and all sorts. For example were the children form the Chris and Cru Kahui families under suspicion of double murder, taken away from their parents? I don’t think so? Yet my sister never harmed her child, still she was ripped away in a very NASTY way. My sister said 30 days may as well be 300 years, she could not cope with the battle against CYFS.

All her beloved animals survived as she made careful arrangements to make sure the gas would not go in the house to her bird and 4 cats…They all survived and they and her daughter are doing well, despite this all.

I wonder how many others are fatally crushed by CYFS and chalked up as “suicides” rather than departmental failures. At least the court acknowledged it was CYFS actions that caused this.

Thank you for the chance to tell the story for my much loved sister. She had problems yes, but I’d rather have the problems, than not have her here today. There were better ways CYFS could have handled this. They have a real “steamroller approach” that literally crushed my sister. Now we are missing a bright intelligent warm loving person, the life of a party. A child is motherless (and fatherless as her father is “off the scene” (dead beat Dad). It has been the worst thing that ever happened in all our lives and has a had a major chain reaction to others in the family with depression, panic attacks and even other suicide attempts by another close family member not coping with our loss. Had CYFS had handled this kindly and gently, constructively, I would not be writing this sad story today and had the last most hellish 18 months of our lives.

Signed: Sad sister

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