Dark Side of Disability: Fragile X and Chris Benoit
Pundits are speculating that the specter of leaving his 7-year old son an orphan may have been the motive for WWE Chris Benoit murdering his son last week. The child had Fragile X Syndrome, a poorly understood genetic disease. Males have only one X chromosome, inherited from the mother at conception, and Fragile X Syndrome is caused by a mutation of the gene called FMR-1.
This gene plays an important role in brain development but the mechanism is poorly understood. About 1 in 5,000 males have Fragile X syndrome. At birth they appear normal, but development is delayed. There is no cure for Fragile X, and management of the syndrome involves complex coordination of medical care, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychologists and special education teachers.
As with many long term disabilities, families get torn apart. Support is hard to find. The issues are complex. Chris Benoit's actions were heinous. People who are suicidal are not thinking clearly. It is frighteningly common for suicides, especially males, not to want to leave anyone behind to mourn them. Call it the grandiosity that goes with the mental illness - they just can't conceive that their loved ones can go on living without them.
Fifteen years ago, psychiatrists called for standardized operational definitions, validated taxonomies, national and I would say international surveillance for this phenomenon. The most formidable foes any of us have to wrestle with are the ones in our own minds. There are warning signs that someone is going to blow. Are we doing enough to protect the innocent children who are all too often victims of murder-suicide ? It is parents who kill their own children - whether it be mothers suffering from post-partum depression or fathers who kill their wives in a jealous rage and take the kids so no one is left behind. None of us are paying enough attention, especially those of us in health care. We have already done too little too late.
Thank you Google Images for use of photo.