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Viviana Parisi, a tragedy that could have been avoided

Viviana Parisi, a tragedy that could have been avoided

The place where the lifeless body of Viviana Parisi, 43, was found.

The reconstruction of the fact : on Monday 3 August, Viviana Parisi and her son Gioele left home to buy shoes. Viviana never reached the shopping center but took the highway towards Palermo from Venetico. After a small accident in which a van was involved, Parisi climbed over the guard rail and disappeared into the fields with little Gioele, 4 years old.

Viviana Parisi’s body was found in the dense bush of Caronia, at the foot of a high voltage pylon. According to investigators, Gioele was with his mother at the time of the accident and the escape into the woods. The search for little Gioiele continues with molecular dogs and drones.

Meanwhile, the woman’s autopsy revealed injuries compatible with the fall from the trellis. «The fractures and bruises – explains the lawyer Pietro Venuti – are compatible with a fall from above. There are, in fact, no cuts or gunshot wounds ».

The hypotheses move towards suicide while Viviana Parisi’s husband, Daniele Mondello, claims that the woman would never have committed suicide.

The diagnosis of psychosis

A few days ago the news appeared that Viviana had been diagnosed with psychosis . News that had been silenced by her husband who had only spoken of depressive episodes: «She had had a form of depression that had worsened during the lockdown. But it was not a daily malaise and it was never aggressive, indeed ».

According to the medical report of the Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto hospital, ” Viviana Parisi suffered from delusions of persecution “. Due to his mental illness he had also faced a period of hospitalization. Viviana’s sister-in-law Mariella Mondello said: “She told my brother that she was being followed, but it was just things she had in her mind. He was mentally ill, even if in recent times he seemed to be better , he alternated periods of serenity with periods of nervous crises ”.

Let’s take a closer look at Viviana Parisi’s diagnosis

The delusional persecution is classified in the DSM V among “the spectrum disorders of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders”. Treatment of the disorder involves the administration of psychotropic drugs, psychotherapy and, if necessary, hospitalization.

The persecution mania is the belief that the patient may be the object of aggression, harm, harassment by an individual, organization or other group more or less defined according to the structure of the delusion itself. The delusions of persecution, in fact, can be more or less structured. A structured delusion of persecution, for example, might see a patient convinced that underworld or intelligence figures are following him for specific reasons or that they are following a well-defined plan. An unstructured delusion of persecution could trigger the patient’s belief that everyone is spying on him for no specific purpose, with the lack of a coordinated plan making any scenario extremely unpredictable.

Delusions are characterized by  a strong detachment from reality .

The scientific literature tells us that those suffering from schizophrenia spectrum disorders and other psychotic disorders see a  high risk of suicide both in delirium and in symptomatic remission.

The hypothesis

The investigators do not exclude any leads even if the hypothesis of the murder seems to be, clue after clue, increasingly remote. As the criminologist Roberta Bruzzone said  even before the outcome of the autopsy: ” the suicidal hypothesis is definitely plausible “.

Among the various scenarios on what may have happened, no one excludes the most terrible one: murder-suicide. Viviana committed suicide by throwing herself from the pylon after killing her son in a failed escape attempt.

The reconstructions of the previous days, would see Viviana withdraw small amounts of money. She had left home with 500 euros and refused to pay the toll booth, claiming she had no money with her. Why did Viviana fail to pay the toll booth? If Viviana Parisi had premeditated something, it was plausibly an escape and not a homicide-suicide. An escape from his persecutors.

When you suffer from  psychosis  and even more precisely from  persecutory manias , the situation can precipitate at any moment, however Parisi may have lost all contact with reality within the home: only this can explain the reason for the 104 kilometers traveled. and the apparently aimless journey (he was not going to the mall as announced). In this context, Viviana Parisi may have misinterpreted the accident by inserting it into her delusional experience . Assuming the hypothesis of suicide (which seems to be the most probable) and excluding a possible kidnapping, the scenarios on the fate of Joel could be reduced to two:

  1. his mother, in an attempt to protect him from imaginary persecutors, hid him by damaging or trapping him.
  2. Viviana Parisi could have seen Joel as her persecutor-enemy and could have assassinated him because it was considered a major obstacle to her escape or a threat to her safety.

Either way, the child may have been the victim of a moment of madness .

Voluntary or involuntary suicide?

A woman in the throes of psychosis might decide to climb a pylon to spy on and observe the arrival of her persecutors and then fatally fall and die, in a completely involuntary suicide . There are many involuntary suicides that are consumed in delusions. Or she could have committed suicide voluntarily, with an  improvised suicidal ideation  .

Viviana Parisi was killed by social stigma

There will be hypotheses upon hypotheses, but even the most plausible reconstruction will remain so: only a reconstruction.

It is true, there is the criminal investigation which, beyond the hypotheses, must produce evidence but at the moment of certain proofs there are none and perhaps the truth will never come to the surface. While you seek the truth about what happened, you can do more: talk more about mental disorders and prevent episodes like this by  countering the stigma that accompanies mental illness.

“Stigma” is a complex term that includes problems of knowledge ( ignorance or mis-information ), of attitude ( prejudice ) and of behavior (discrimination, disinterest, denial). Among the behavior problems there is the whole system of inertia observed in the case of Viviana Parisi .

The  stigma is something that  leads to silence  and leads to the denial of mental illness condition . The social stigma towards people with mental illness persists and is a rooted and ubiquitous phenomenon: mental illness is still a taboo , so those who suffer from it hide it, deny it or do not understand what is happening to them, slipping into total unawareness.

Some might ask: How can a woman diagnosed with delusional persecution be left alone with a 4-year-old child? A stern eye could condemn a husband, sister-in-law and family members who have not seen the alarm bells. Viviana Parisi’s family members do not deserve any guilty verdict because they too are probably victims of the social stigma that hangs over mental illness.

Daniele Mondello, Viviana Parisi’s husband, has never felt the need to mention his wife’s mental illness even though he has launched many appeals. In an interview published on 13 August in Corriere.it Daniele continued to ignore his wife’s mental health and to the question “What do you think happened?” he answered:

“I really don’t know, something has happened so far from our world that I can’t imagine anything. I had seen her quiet and I knew she had to go and get the shoes for the baby, there were no particular reasons for alarm ». 

After hospitalization, the prescription of psychotropic drugs and the diagnosis of a psychotic disorder, if you continue to ignore a fact there is  a deeper reason and it is rooted in cultural heritage.

There is very little information and a lot of misinformation on mental pathology. Especially on schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, often associated with the legacies of asylum structures. The fear of mental illness makes the subject a taboo with the consequence that those who suffer from it do not receive all  possible  support (health but also social).

It has been shown that abandoning prejudices and  looking at mental illness for what it is – that is, a disease like any other and above all that can be the subject of careful treatment – changes its prognosis considerably . It is of fundamental importance to admit the existence of psychopathological conditions that must be treated and not hidden or left to chance.

Only by overcoming the social stigma will it be possible to face the assumption of responsibility for taking care of those who need it . Viviana Parisi and little Gioele were certainly in great need of it.