SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — Cases of maternal filicide (the killing of a child by their own parent) have raised shock, outrage, and concern across the nation.
A large number of the “murders” are open-and-shut cases in that the mothers voluntarily called the police and 119 (emergency services) after causing the deaths of their children. What has been particularly noteworthy is that the women report themselves as suffering from postpartum depression.
It is believed that at least 10 percent of women suffer from this particular form of depression. Some of the symptoms are hypersensitivity, strong feelings of guilt and anxiety. Particularly vicious bouts of the mental illness can lead to the mother committing uncharacteristic actions such as refusing to breastfeed or even physically harming the baby.
On August 7, a woman who was indicted for killing her four-month-old child confessed that she had been suffering from postpartum depression. According to the police, the woman blocked her child’s mouth and nose for about two minutes as the baby would not stop crying. After the baby lost consciousness, the woman immediately called the police for assistance.
The woman confessed to the police that she had been suffering severe depression from raising her three children by herself. Reportedly, she had never sought care from a medical professional.
In a similar case, another mother of three lost her child to asphyxiation. To stop the six-month-old from crying, she also held the baby’s mouth and nose closed. The mother and her family members told the police that she had been suffering from postpartum depression.
Despite the remorse that the women may feel, the police remain adamant that “taking the life of a child is a grave crime that is inexcusable and unforgivable, regardless of whether the mother was suffering from postpartum depression”, a spokesperson said. “The mothers are remorseful for their actions now that they have come to their senses and their child is gone.”
Professor Ahn Seok Gyun of Severance Hospital in Sinchon stressed the need for mothers to receive treatment after giving birth. “Three weeks of treatment will improve [the mother's] symptoms and help her recover,” he said.
Seconding the call for treatment was Professor Kim Yeong Sik of Seowon University, who said that the government must develop a system so that “mothers suffering from postpartum depression in times of low fertility can receive medical treatment and care”.
Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)