The new cancer in society

- Photo courtesy Pixabay
- Photo courtesy Pixabay

THE EDITOR: As in the case of Osmond Baboolal, we've all seen the tragic consequences of young people witnessing horrific events. He was only 13 years old when the Dole Chadee gang murdered his family, and now, at 43, he has been imprisoned for 14 years while awaiting trial on two attempted murder charges.

His story highlights the urgent need for ongoing mental health care, which goes beyond the short-term aid often provided in Trinidad.

Baboolal struggled for years after his family's murder, let down by the system and misled by others in his community. Accused of assaulting two students in 2010, he attracted media attention, but the trauma of witnessing his family's murder haunted him after testifying against the perpetrators.

His younger sister, however, overcame the tragedy and became a lawyer with the help of family and support from non-governmental organisations.

Despite some community support, Baboolal's condition deteriorated. He associated with questionable individuals, lost his job, and became increasingly isolated. His mental state declined, leading to the 2010 accusations, which resulted in a four-month mental assessment at the St Ann's Psychiatric Hospital.

Baboolal's story highlights the crucial need for long-term support for those affected by trauma. Short-term assistance is not enough – individuals like Baboolal require ongoing mental health care and genuine community support to heal and rebuild their lives.

This underlines how trauma and tragedy affect both children and adults. It takes a dedicated team and the right tools to address the core of the issue, rather than just applying a temporary fix.

A powerful Cherokee chief shared a story that perfectly illustrates this internal struggle. He described a battle between two wolves inside us all: one representing negative traits, the other embodying virtues. When asked which wolf wins, the chief replied, “The one you feed.”

This wisdom deeply resonates with those enduring severe loss, such as a mother grieving for a child lost to violence. Her daily battle to overcome shock, rage and despair is like the chief's wolves fighting within her. Support from friends, family and professionals helps her nourish the right wolf, finding strength amidst the shadows.

Families, too, must navigate their grief, balancing personal coping mechanisms with collective mourning. Just as the internal conflict between the wolves can unite or divide, family support and open communication are vital for healing.

Siblings face unique challenges, grappling with fear and loss. Encouraging them to express their feelings and seek help is crucial, reminding them that vulnerability is a strength.

Friends and companions also bear the burden of grief, mourning lost futures and shared dreams. A supportive network can be a lifeline, helping them process their emotions.

As a society we must recognise the long-term effects of violence and create safe spaces for young people to express their fears and feelings. Promoting open dialogue about violence and fostering an emotional safety net can prevent the normalisation of tragedy. We must teach our children that it’s okay to feel fear and seek support, creating a culture of empathy and support rather than silence and repression.

The wisdom of the Cherokee chief reminds us that, despite TT's recent violent temperature, a war rages within each of us. The wolf we feed is the one who prevails. Let's make informed decisions, as the future is at stake. While we fight to win the battle within, we have to be aware of the overall effects our choice will have on our family, nation, society and local communities.




"The new cancer in society"

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