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Father arrested over murder of two Tamil children

Photograph: Metropolitan Police

A 40-year-old Tamil man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after two children were found stabbed to death at their east London home on Sunday evening, in an incident that has highlighted issues around mental health in the Tamil community.

The children were identified as 19-month-old Pavinya, who was pronounced dead at the scene, and three-year-old Nigish who died at hospital. The man, reported to be the father of the two children, is currently receiving treatment at a London hospital and remains under police guard.

“The ending of these innocent young lives is extraordinarily tragic and we are working hard to fully understand what may have caused this to happen,” said the Metropolitan Police’s Detective Chief Inspector Vicky Tunstall. “Whilst I know the effects of this crime are reverberating throughout the local community, please be reassured that we are not seeking any other person(s) in connection with the deaths.”

The murder, which takes place amidst several weeks of lockdown in the city, has highlighted the pressing issue of mental health amongst the local Tamil community and the stigma attached to it.

A Tamil helpline set up by volunteers in London has received more than 400 calls in the last three weeks, said community organiser Anandan Arnold. More than a dozen of the calls were regarding mental health issues. He has seen immediate safeguarding cases and situations where vulnerable people needed immediate help. “There are mental issues leading to alcohol abuse as well as verbal and domestic abuse and vice versa, meaning it starts with alcoholism and leading to mental issues, or it starts with abuse and lead leads to mental well-being issues,” said Arnold.

“There is a stigma attached to being described as if you have ‘mental health issues’, so people feel they can’t come forward,” added Arnold, as he urged the community to take the issue seriously.

Read more about the helpline here.

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