The pa­thetic tale told by the num­bers

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

The aim of the study which cov­ered 391 cases of dis­ap­pear­ances in the South­ern Prov­ince was to check out the preva­lence of Ma­jor De­pres­sive Dis­or­der (MDD) and Pro­longed Grief Dis­or­der (PGD) in fam­i­lies of dis­ap­peared in­di­vid­u­als.

It also com­pared and con­trasted those who even­tu­ally re­ceived the mor­tal remains and those who did not. This was while the study looked at their be­lief as to whether the miss­ing per­son was still alive or dead. (See graphic)

All these fam­i­lies were iden­ti­fied through the Dis­trict Sec­re­tar­iat and the Grama Ni­lad­haris. Some fam­i­lies, how­ever, had not vol­un­teered to di­vulge in­for­ma­tion due to “un­der­stand­able” rea­sons such as se­cu­rity is­sues and stigma.

If the in­ter­vie­wee had lost more than one fam­ily mem­ber, he/she had been asked to spec­ify whose death was most dif­fi­cult to cope with and to base their an­swers with ref­er­ence to that per­son.

When tak­ing the fam­i­lies of the miss­ing:

Of the in­ter­vie­wees, 275 had been fe­males and 164 moth­ers of the dis­ap­peared per­son.

The in­ter­vie­wees’ mean age was 57.6 years, with the youngest and old­est be­ing 18 and 89 years re­spec­tively. At the time of their fam­ily mem­ber’s dis­ap­pear­ance, the in­ter­vie­wees’ age had ranged from just 2 years to 72 years.

The death of 168 of the miss­ing had later been con­firmed by the remains be­ing found and iden­ti­fied as the miss­ing per­son. The fam­i­lies of the re­main­ing 223 are yet to re­ceive any con­fir­ma­tion re­lat­ing to the sta­tus of their loved one.

While 72 of those who had dis­ap­peared fol­low­ing the tsunami were con­firmed to have died, this was the case for only 96 of the dis­ap­pear­ances re­lated to civil con­flicts. Among those who have not ob­tained con­fir­ma­tion of death, when asked about their gen­eral be­lief, about 44% had been “un­sure” whether the miss­ing per­son had died or was still alive. Al­most a sim­i­lar pro­por­tion was con­fi­dent that the per­son had died, while a small num­ber was liv­ing with the strong be­lief that their fam­ily mem­ber was still alive some­where.

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