The Tragic Tale Of An Illness

The extremely sad and tragic story of Satpal Kaur Singh demonstrated once again the lack of attention paid by social services to adequately support mental health and children. Satpal pleaded to manslaughter and was sentenced to 7 years for killing her 12 year old autistic son by making him drink bleach. Her own mental health deteriorated as she struggled to cope with the care of her son.

Whilst the services will get much of the blame for neglect, as an Asian, I do need to look at our the community and its attitude towards both mental and physical illnesses. Where were her family? Did they not notice her deterioration in health and the risk to the boy? Why do we turn our backs on people with illnesses? After all, we pride ourselves on looking out for each other and being a family.

It is a shame that there is such a lack of understanding with these illnesses and people are riddled with fear and a sense of embarrassment. People still feel ashamed of ill family members and they are often left to their own devices.

I recall a close member of my family who is physically disabled saying “I with people would talk to me then over me. I am here.” This person’s physical disability did not prevent her from getting an education and becoming a successful solicitor.  But it did prevent people in our community from engaging with her. She went on to marry an Englishman to which the community said, “Well, it would be hard to get her married”.

The shameful way illnesses and disabilities are treated needs to be changed, especially when lives are at stake. I feel that in the case of Satpal Kaur Singh, that her family and community have some part to play in the death of Ajit Singh Mahal as the neglectful social services.


4 Comments to “The Tragic Tale Of An Illness”

  1. It is a sad story and I agree the mother needed help but making your child drink bleach is a gruesome painful death.

    Disability is still a taboo subject and mental health is not taken seriously at all, particlarly in women. The Victorian condition known as hysteria is a perfectly normal and acceptable diagnosis of many womens problems. Interesting that women in the west aren’t described as hysterical.

  2. This is such a tragic story and Bunty, I admire your empathy particularly as you are a parent. I have to admit when I first heard of this I was disgusted that someone could do such a thing to their own child.

    I have a severely disabled cousin and her parents are incredible – although they still, even after 32 years, have to put up with ignorant comments, usually from people in our family! When my cousin was born, my aunty’s sister-in-law very helpfully said “god doesn’t make children ill, it is to punish the parents for deeds they have done”.

  3. Yes, I too was disgusted by the crime itself, but when I read the story, I really felt that society and her own community had let her and her son down. Of course she is to blame for the murder but it isn’t easy to look after severely disabled children when you have your sanity, let alone when you have mental health issues as a parent.

    Vakeel Bibi, it must be awful for the parents of your disabled cousin to hear this. I too have heard this said and it makes me shudder to think that people even think like this.

    Bubbly, I totally agree. Hysteria is an easy label to give to us women. I think in the West we have found other labels to replace this one.

    This tragic tale opens up a bigger can of worms. We can only change attitudes by not agreeing with what is said and offering empathy and sympathy.

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