Father who strangled daughter with severe anxiety disorder gets 10-year sentence
Despite their best efforts, parents of children with chronic anxiety can themselves get trapped in a vicious cycle and sometimes resort to extreme measures. In one such tragic instance, a father strangled his teen daughter to death on July 21, 2017 because he had been at his “wits’ end for months and months” due to her severe anxiety disorder. On Feb. 5, 2018, the man was sentenced to a “hybrid” 10-year term which included detention at a psychiatric unit for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before being moved to jail.
Olivia Kray, the 19-year-old victim from Herne Bay, Kent in the United Kingdom, was killed by her father Richard Kray in his caravan. Olivia had struggled with mental disorders since she was 10. Although Richard had tried to support her as best as he could by giving her the “best treatment possible,” Olivia’s needs became “intense” in the weeks leading up to her death, due to which he “lost the plot.” After killing Olivia, he also tried to strangle his former partner Damyantee Cowan, but she managed to escape to a nearby police station.
Health professionals had previously observed that Olivia’s parents had “reached the end of their tether with her.” During court proceedings it was highlighted that on several occasions, Olivia would call mental health professionals and the police if Richard left her. She would also text her father asking for help. While returning from a shopping center a week before the murder, Richard had wanted to “crash the car” and kill the entire family after being frustrated with Olivia’s behavior.
Unable to let his daughter “suffer any more”
Richard told the police that he took the extreme step because he could not let her “suffer any more.” He had been growing increasingly frustrated of late, telling the mother of one of Olivia’s friends: “I’m just so, so tired, I’ve been at work and now I’m having to deal with this.” He told the lady that although he had thought of killing “the pair of them,” he would not do so because he loved his daughter. Richard had told his sister separately that it would be easier to kill Olivia and Cowan.
Terming the killing an “atrocious and cowardly act,” Olivia’s family asserted that she would have recovered from her mental illnesses and would have had a bright future. A statement from Kent Police mentioned that “a man, failing to see a way of managing ongoing issues with mental health, has instead chosen to kill his own daughter and tried to kill another.” In pronouncing the sentence, the judge observed that Richard’s ability to think rationally and exercise restraint was “substantially impaired,” which led to a “unique set of circumstances, unlikely to be repeated.”
Experts emphasize that it is important for parents and caregivers to have the same expectations of a child with an anxiety disorder that they would have of any other child. Moreover, expectations may need to be modified during the child’s stressful episodes. Children’s anxiety disorders should not be construed as poor parenting even though they can often lead to extreme stress in the family. It helps to build a support network of relatives and friends to deal with such circumstances.
Anxiety disorders can be treated
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million American adults aged 18 years and older (18.1 percent of the adult population) and 25.1 percent children aged between 13 and 18 years. Children with untreated anxiety disorders have a higher risk of performing poorly in school, missing out on important social experiences and engaging in substance abuse. Affected individuals face significantly higher doctor visits and hospitalization for psychiatric disorders than those without such disorders.
Although anxiety disorders are treatable, only 36.9 percent of those suffering receive treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-established, effective and long-lasting treatment for anxiety disorders. Other treatment options include medication, complementary and alternative treatment and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
Anxiety and other mental illnesses can be treated with timely intervention. Contact the Recover Mental Health for information on our evidence-based programs for anxiety disorder treatment. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-593-2339 or chat online with one of our experts to know more about the best anxiety disorder treatment center in your vicinity.