A mother of a five-year-old boy who has spoken of suicide has said that she has been refused urgent help from the HSE's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS).
Liz McGann from Dungourney, Co Cork recently had a troubling incident with her son TJ regarding suicide. Three weeks ago she went to his bedroom and found him in a distressed state.
"He told me he was unhappy because he was so bold all the time and he wanted to go to heaven so he wouldn't make me sad anymore.
"(He says) the bold people in his head are making him bold although he doesn't want to be."
It was horrific. He told me he knew what he was doing (regarding suicide) and that scared me a lot.
"Where does a five-year-old know this from and learn this from? It has not something he would be around or that he would have heard from any of my family."
School is 'so patient, so supportive'
TJ was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome earlier this year by a prominent consultant in Dublin who has decades of experience. He attends a nearby Educate Together School where he has thrived academically.
Liz told the Opinion Line on Cork's 96FM that the school "go above and beyond for him".
"They really have brought him on in the last couple of months. He has made friends. They are so accepting of him and so patient and so supportive. I really am so grateful."
'They are telling me to hit you but I don't want to'
TJ first started having outbursts when he was three years old.
Liz says like a lot of kids on the spectrum he is prone to lashing out. However, in the last couple of weeks he has been talking about voices telling him to do things.
"He will tell me ‘Mum I have to hit you' and ‘they are telling me to hit you but I don't want to.’ It is horrific."
Liz recently went to her GP who said that TJ required urgent intervention from the HSE CAHMS service. She says he wrote to CAHMS about the situation.
Liz states that she received a short letter from CAHMS which recommended that she seek the services of speech and occupational therapists and the assistance of TUSLA.
"I rang and I rang (CAHMS) and I got nothing. When I read the letter they recommended occupational therapy and speech and language therapy for TJ. His speech is outstanding.
"They recommended I speak to another agency. They told me to call TUSLA in relation to TJ's aggression. I spoke to a lady (from the agency) who couldn't comprehend why they would
recommend that I speak to TUSLA about his aggression."
Liz says she has paid for some private help from TJ some of which is of benefit to him.
However, in spite of all of her best efforts she is still at square one with her child.
I am trying my hardest. I am frightened when he goes to bed about closing the door. That is how he likes to sleep. I have a tighter leash on him which isn't fair on him.
"It's appalling - the lack of services. I was never so aware as I am now.
"It's not fair that these children that are the future are going through this. They are asking for help and the help isn't there. TJ is such a lovable little boy."
CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and is a service that provides assessment and treatment for young people and their families who are experiencing mental health difficulties.
The term ‘CAMHS’ is usually applied very specifically to services that provide specialist mental health treatment and care to young people up to 18 years of age through a multidisciplinary team.
In a statement Cork Kerry Community Healthcare said that referrals to CAMHS are assessed based on the information given and available to the team.
"In some cases, a referral may not be accepted if there is not enough information provided. In all cases, if further information becomes available then a referral can and will be reassessed."
Whilst not being able to comment on the particulars of the case the HSE said that their staff have been in ongoing contact with this family and the referrer and will continue this contact.
"In any case where someone has an immediate concern about a child, out-of-hours cover is available through Emergency Department."
Anyone with any difficulties is asked to contact The Samaritans 24/7 service on 116123; the 24/7 service run by Pieta House on 1800 247 247; Childline on 1800 666 666 (for children under the age of 18).
Anyone in crisis can get immediate support through their GP or the Southdoc service (1850 335 999, southdoc.ie).