Deal with anger management now, Semaj urges
MONTEGO BAY, St James — As Jamaica grapples with the death of five-month-old Destiny Brown, allegedly at the hands of her mother, psychologist Dr Leahcim Semaj believes that major intervention is needed in anger management and conflict resolution across the island.
“The entire nation is impacted by… just the very nature of the reported incident, but for me, it is telling us there are two things that are severely and sadly missing in terms of the Jamaican psychological space. We need a lot more training and instructions on anger management and conflict resolution,” Dr Semaj told the Jamaica Observer on Saturday.
Destiny was allegedly thrown from the roof of a two-storey dwelling in Barrett Hall, St James, by her 28-year-old mother. The baby died on Thursday at Cornwall Regional Hospital where she was receiving medical treatment for the injuries sustained during the fall. The mother of the child has been admitted to a hospital in western Jamaica, as she also allegedly attempted suicide by leaping from the building and ingesting bleach.
The incidents were reportedly stemming from a domestic dispute between the woman and her partner, 41-year-old Dweight Brown.
Dr Semaj pointed out that with Jamaica’s steady reports of violence stemming from disputes of various natures, there is evidence that more needs to be done to tackle an obvious lack of understanding of how disagreements are to be handled. The psychologist also told the Sunday Observer that a lack of anger management and conflict resolution skills can be observed across the island.
“If we can look at how many incidents, including this one, that were triggered by our anger management problem and not adequately knowing how to resolve a conflic, we can see that at every level, people are not getting help and understanding how to diffuse anger and so many things that we do in anger, 99 per cent of the time, we regret it. So those are the two areas that jumped out at me. The nation is not handling those two areas with any amount of effectiveness,” Dr Semaj stressed.
“So many of these domestic partner disputes, community disputes, family disputes, stranger disputes, and road rage disputes all come down to those two things — [lack] of anger management and conflict resolution skills,” he added.
Bringing focus to the psychological impacts that the incidents have on Jamaicans, Dr Semaj challenged the media to play its part in bringing information depicting proper anger management and conflict resolution skills to its audiences. He told the Sunday Observer that agencies and community groups should also step forward to bring across the necessary intervention.
“The media probably has nothing to help diffuse things. If the media could help people to work [on] anger management and conflict resolution that would be beneficial. Schools could also help people to work on anger management and conflict resolution,” Dr Semaj suggested.
“So if we could just really take some time to focus on those two areas. It’s incredible the impact at the personal, interpersonal, and community level with the wanton level of violence in our society,” the psychologist added.
The tragic incident was allegedly witnessed by the woman’s eight-year-old daughter who alerted her stepfather. He explained that the mother also attempted to get a hold of the young girl before her alleged suicide attempts.
Questioned on how the family may move forward from the incident, Dr Semaj told the Sunday Observer that they will not be able to process the trauma alone.
“Moving on will largely be a result of the intervention and the resources that are provided, because it is very hard when you are in the middle of pain and grief. Not many people can adequately process it, so it is important that [support] is given whether it be by the Church or the State, social workers, and community members,” Dr Semaj explained.
The Jamaican people, too, will need help to process the incident, he argued.
“Everyone who read about it experienced some negative emotions as a result of this incident. Everyone, starting with those who are directly involved, the family and the community, there is pain and there is grief and there is also fear that this can happen again. It could have happened to me and so people are a lot more fearful,” Dr Semaj said.