When life gets too hard
Father takes son’s life and his own after protection order.
I received a call from a newspaper in KZN last week asking for my comments, as an expert, about a local father who drowned himself and his 8-year-old son after his estranged wife took out a protection order against him. From the article on the front page of the Post, it seems that the man feared that he would no longer have access to his son and, using his old wedding tie, tied his boy to himself and plunged into the sea.

What went wrong?

This is a tragedy that has shocked the community and no doubt left several families reeling in agonising grief. Clearly for a man (or person) to resort to such extreme measures indicates a severe lack of emotional maturity. It can never be condoned and it should never have been allowed to happen.

In this age of boundless information and advice he should have found answers to his fears via any number of organisations that deal with these circumstances.
We can speculate about his reasons and his state of mind at the time. It seems he was telling colleagues that his biggest fear was not being allowed to see his son after a marriage of ten years. Most men struggle with coming to terms with expressing their emotions, especially when in a situation where seemingly rational (according to their point of view) arguments are met with responses that don’t go their way.

I’m no stranger to having to accept situations involving my kids, which I did not necessarily agree with. But here’s the thing. The needs of the child have to always come first. Whether you believe your rights are being infringed or will be infringed upon, there are legitimate avenues to pursue and exhaust. And even in the worst case scenario, you have an option to wait it out until the kid is old enough to choose to spend time with you despite the other party’s wishes. Even if it takes years!

You do not have to resort to this kind of extreme emotional response. Why was this man not advised to seek help from institutions like the Family Advocate, or even an advisory service like Life-line, both of which are free services? And there are many others like it. Have we failed him as a community? Do we wash our hands off of him and blame his own immaturity for the tragedy? Tough call, but in the final analysis, an innocent kid is no longer with us.

Reach out

I would like to appeal to any men out there who are going through the anxiety of separation, whether it involves kids or not, to seek advice and help about the implications of separation and their legal rights. Please, take the time to make contact with someone who has experience of what you’re going through and can easy your anguish. If the rationale in your mind does not add up and you’re leaning towards doing something you know isn’t right, pick up the phone, send an email, search the Net; speak to someone. You do not have to go through this alone and no child should ever have to be sacrificed for something that could so easily have been resolved through the proper mediation. If you need to, start by making contact with me at marlon.abrahams@gmail.com.

Read more by Marlon Abrahams

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