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Rapid response for Seecharan family

Cecily Asson and Ryan Hamilton-Davis Friday, August 14 2015

The Barrackpore family who lost a couple of their own in tragic circumstances over the last few days, are now receiving priority attention by the State.

This followed complaints from the family that relevant agencies were quite slow in responding to their pleas for counselling — a factor which they believe led to one of them committing suicide.

It was revealed yesterday that a team comprising a trauma specialist, a social worker and a psychologist was dispatched from the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (CATT) to the Seecharan’s home to provide therapeutic and psycho-social support for family members in coping with deaths of prison officer Robert Seecharan, 36 and his wife Sherry Ann, 35 who both died under tragic circumstances within days of each other.

First, Robert, the sole breadwinner in the family, on July 29, was shot and killed with his own licenced firearm during a very public fight in Penal following which his 16-year-old relative and wife Sherry Ann were immediately detained for questioning, and second Sherry, who took her own life on Wednesday after a bout of depression which caused her mother to reach out in vain for help.

“I called them but no one came forward to help,” Sherry-Ann’s mother Samdaye Ragoo cried on Wednesday as she watched her daughter’s covered body on a couch downstairs the two storey house moments after she was found frothing by the mouth with a bottle containing a poisonous liquid nearby. Priority attention is being given to the four young children Sherry Ann and her husband left behind Following the shooting of Robert, Sherry and her 16-year-old daughter were detained by police.

After four days in custody, the teenager confessed to pulling the trigger saying it was done in self defence to save the life of her mother who for five years had been a victim of domestic abuse.

Mother and daughter were later set free and the details of the fatal shooting incident revealed in a press conference shortly after their release.

Needing someone to talk to, a depressed and traumatised Sherry Ann, moved in with her sister Elizabeth Rangoo, whose husband Cyrus Joseph, had been found murdered on July 13, and who herself never received any form of counselling following her husband’s death. Rangoo, instead, became her sister’s counsellor but it was not enough, and so in a shocking turn of events on Wednesday, Sherry Ann ingested a poisonous substance. The mother of four died moments after she was found frothing at her mouth on the steps of Elizabeth’s home.

Relatives blamed the authorities for failing to step in to assist them. They said openly that they believed if Sherry Ann had received professional help after the shooting death of her husband she might not have taken her own life. Her mother, Samdaye Ragoo told reporters she had begged for counselling for her daughter Sherry Ann but she was ignored by the relevant authorities.

Yesterday, the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (CATT) was just one of several agencies coming forward. Also contacting the family to offer their services were the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Social Services, Central Unit, National Family Services, Victim and Witness Support Unit and Belgrove’s Funeral Home (Counselling Division) In a release yesterday CATT said they will assess the children, including Mohani, following their mother’s suicide.

The statement said, “The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago extends condolences to the family of Sherry Ann Seecharan who committed suicide yesterday.

The Authority has sent a team of specialists to provide support for the well-being of the woman’s children.

The team comprises a trauma specialist, social worker and a psychologist who will provide therapeutic and psycho-social support for the children in coping with their loss. The Authority will assess the needs of the children and recommend the type of intervention that they may require, in order to support them through what is undoubtedly a difficult period. In an effort to provide the necessary services to the adults in the family, the Authority will liaise with partner agencies within the social services system, particularly, the National Family Services and the Victim, Witness and Support Unit.

The Authority, dealing with another tragedy involving children during the past week, says it stands ready to provide any support, including assessing the Diego Martin children who were charged with manslaughter and possession of arms and ammunition, once the Court refers the matter to the Authority. Two brothers, aged 11 and 13, are facing the charges arising out of an incident in which one of a group that was playing with a gun in a Diego Martin garden, was shot to death.

When contacted yesterday, manager of Victim and Witness Support Unit, Margaret Sampson- Browne, told Newsday that her agency stands willing and ready to help and has already been in contact with the affected members of the family.

“We are in touch with the Seecharan family and have been and will continue to work with them and all families in grief,” Sampson-Browne added. “We are strategising and will give them all the support they need.” The family’s attorney, Gerard Ramdeen, was also present yesterday at the Seecharan’s home and expressed his gratitude and satisfaction with the response which he said, though late, was still welcomed.

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