Trail­blaz­ing study on fam­i­lies of miss­ing peo­ple

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ku­mu­dini Het­tiarachchi

The first- ever study, not just in Sri Lanka but in the world, on the psy­cho­log­i­cal im­pact on fam­i­lies of miss­ing per­sons has been con­ducted by two lo­cal psy­chi­a­trists.

Fam­ily mem­bers of miss­ing in­di­vid­u­als un­sure whether their loved ones are alive or dead are at a higher risk of psy­cho­log­i­cal ill­ness, the ev­i­dence-based land­mark study car­ried out in the south has found.

Moth­ers and wives were par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble, the study has un­earthed, with the ‘psy­cho­log­i­cal mor­bid­ity’ of the fam­ily mem­bers of the ‘dis­ap­peared’ or ‘miss­ing’ in­clud­ing Ma­jor De­pres­sive Dis­or­der (MDD) and Pro­longed Grief Dis­or­der (PGD).

The study has been con­ducted by Prof. She­han Wil­liams, Pro­fes­sor in Psy­chi­a­try, Fac­ulty of Medicine, Univer­sity of Ke­laniya and Dr. Amila Isuru, ear­lier of the Univer­sity Psy­chi­a­try Unit of the North Colombo Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal, Ragama, now serv­ing as the Act­ing Consultant Psy­chi­a­trist of the Man­nar Hos­pi­tal.

The re­search has been pub­lished in the top-notch ‘Psy­cho­log­i­cal Medicine’ jour­nal of the Cam­bridge Univer­sity Press, pos­si­bly an­other first for Sri Lanka, the Sun­day Times learns.

Grounding their study in the dis­tricts of Matara, Galle and Ham­ban­tota, they have focused on fam­i­lies who are liv­ing with the bur­den of hav­ing a miss­ing per­son from the 1988-89 youth in­sur­rec­tion, the De­cem­ber 2004 tsunami and the 30-year eth­nic con­flict.

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