Hokitika Shootings, Suspect Undergoing Psyc Evaluation

Police have released the name of one of the victims of yesterday’s murders in Hokitika, he is 86 year old grandfather Frank Joseph Schist. The other deceased person is believed to be his grandson Andrew Hucheson who is in his early 20s. see Man in Court after Hokitika Murder. The double homicide has stunned the small west coast community of 3,000 people.

A 41 year old man has appeared in court and his name is suppressed until a psychiatric report has been prepared. Police say a rifle was found at the property.

There are an increasing number of fatal home invasions carried out by people with a history of psychiatric problems and drug abuse. See our blog post Killing of Gaynor White highlights mental health issues in New Zealand:

The man accused of her murder, Shaun Skilling, is said to have a history of mental health issues and he himself was a “homebake heroin addict.” His father died in a car crash hours after being taken to a mental health facility by police after a violent episode. The day before Mrs White was killed Shaun told his partner that he would kill himself in the same way that his father had died.

In the preceding weeks his family had tried desperately to seek help for their son but say they were repeatedly let down by mental health services, even though they had begged for help.

New Zealand has a widespread and serious problem with drugs and alcohol abuse, health services struggle to cope with treating mental illnesses that either lead to, or arise from substance abuse. It is more than a coincidence that NZ has some of the worlds highest suicide rates and the second highest ratio of prison incarcerations in 10 comparable OECD countries.

The message we’re getting is that a person in crisis has to commit a serious crime before any significant support is given, people in desperate need are let down time after time. Unfortunately in addition to the harm people inflict on themselves, innocent members of their local communities are on the receiving end of the crimes they commit. Does anyone seem to care?

The Ministry of Health puts estimates of the prevalence of mental health problems amongst adult New Zealanders as follows:

  • about 3 percent of the population have severe mental health problems or disorders
  • another 5 percent of adult New Zealanders have moderate/severe mental health problems or disorders
  • another 12 percent of adult New Zealanders have mild/moderate mental health problems or disorders.

Although many people with mental disorders present to primary care services, service provision in response to their needs depends on the interest and expertise of individual practitioners. Therefore models and standards of service delivery are haphazard and inconsistent. In the current primary health care system, barriers to the provision of effective primary mental health services include:

  • cost to the GP
  • cost to the service user
  • GP confidence and competence.

In particular, the current fee-for-service funding system and service user part-charges create financial incentives for both the GP and service user to meet the user’s needs through specialist mental health care.

The provision of primary mental health services in New Zealand is predominantly GP-based. Internationally, in contrast, other professional groups such as nurses, social workers, counsellors and psychologists have an increasing role in such provision. Despite very little formal evaluation of the effectiveness of these roles, recent work suggests interventions that consistently improved outcomes for people presenting to primary health care services with depression incorporated some form of case management approach. Typically the case management role is taken on by staff other than GPs at relatively low cost.

The literature shows clear support for primary health care practitioners taking the lead role in the provision of mental health services for people with mild to moderate mental health problems. With respect to mental health services for the 3 percent of the population with severe mental health problems, however, the role of primary health care practitioners is less well defined.

In New Zealand there is a somewhat ad hoc approach to the provision of primary health care services for this group. In recent years a few ‘pilot initiatives’ have aimed at transferring the lead role in clinical service provision for people with severe mental health problems from specialist mental health services to GPs. Because these initiatives are generally locally initiated, the way in which they are funded and delivered varies considerably.“          Read more here

A national Study of Psychiatric Morbidity in NZ Prisons may show evidence of that failure to provide adequate treatment and support to people with mental illnesses, it’s reflected in the country’s prison population:

“The results indicate a significantly higher rate of mental disorder than that in the community. This is particularly so for schizophrenia, for bipolar disorder, for major depression, for obsessive compulsive disorder and for post traumatic stress disorder. All these conditions are associated with high levels of distress and disability, especially during the acute phases of these illnesses.

The National Study also revealed that nearly 60 percent of all inmates have at least one major personality disorder.

The National Study estimates that all inmates who have a current diagnosis of schizophrenia or a related disorder and bipolar disorder will require active psychiatric treatment and of those, 135 will require inpatient treatment. The life-time and one-month prevalence for these disorders is significantly higher than in the community. Of those inmates in the acute phase of these disorders, 30.6 percent are currently receiving mental health medication.”

One has to ask if many of these people only have access to and receive proper assessment and treatment after they’ve entered the prison system, why isn’t far more being done before they get to that stage, why wait for a crime to be committed? Surely it would be lot more cost effective and better for NZ society as a whole it if were.

See also: “Nice scenery,good-wine and food shame, about the inbred psychopaths