Herma and Odd were brutally killed by the mentally ill neighbour. When their children wrote the obituary, they made an unusual choice.
– I miss them every day.
Robert Gjetsund is sitting at the round kitchen table at home at Vinderen. In the living room, 12-year-old Rufus, a shaggy dog with light brown, curly fur, paws.
It will soon be a year since he and his sister lost their parents Herma (83) and Odd (88) Gjetsund.
– It is simply unimaginable and still unreal, says Robert.
The couple were brutally killed in their own home in Otta by a mentally ill neighbour.
When he and his sister were to write the obituary, they decided to write something very special.
Something that caused the loss of the parents to be about more than the murders, and which was the first step in the battle Robert has been in the breach for ever since.
The Otta murders are a declaration of bankruptcy for Norwegian psychiatry
I want a broad political debate on how Norwegian psychiatry can be improved.
It was his sister’s idea. Robert immediately liked the idea. In the obituary, below the time of the funeral, they wrote
“As dear as flowers are a gift to Mental health in Sel”
– We just wanted to show that we bear no grudge against the perpetrator. We wanted to say that this type of patient who is so seriously ill, they are also a victim of this here. It was our way of expressing that attitude.
Many wanted to contribute after reading the obituary. NOK 22,450 was given to the municipality’s work with mental health.
“The kindest people”
Herma and Odd had two children and six grandchildren.
Robert refers to his parents as “the kindest people he knew”.
Herma (83) worked as a nurse in Sel municipality for almost her entire working life.
– She was the one who took all the guards that no one else wanted. When there were holidays and night shifts, she always showed up and was the one to take them. She really only lived for others.
She and her son often went for walks in Rondane.
– Up on the highest peaks, and she was fit right up to the last day. She could have been involved in a lot more.
The father, Odd (88), spent his career at sea.
– He worked for a shipping company in Oslo, sailed around the world and brought the whole world home to us children. He was also very interested in technology and good at fixing anything that needed fixing.
Although he was approaching ninety years old, he visited the local gym three times a week.
The son says that the couple had good neighbours, that they could often be found at the cafe in the local area and that they found a lot of joy in each other’s company at home with the cat.
– As people, they were simply incredibly kind, and cared most about what they could do for others. They did not want to highlight themselves or be a nuisance to others
When the world came crashing down
Robert was at the cabin when he got the message. He and his wife had invited friends for dinner. Then he received a text message from his sister who wrote that she could not get hold of the parents.
– They had just got new mobile phones, so I just thought they had managed to put them on “silent” or something like that.
In the meantime, the national media reported on a double murder in the home town of Otta.
– I could not believe that they would be involved in something like that. But then only a few minutes passed and then I got a phone call from the police with the horrible message.
– It was as if the whole world just collapsed.
The parents were two completely accidental victims. Before the psychotic neighbor knocked on their door, he had already knocked on the door of two other neighbors who had not answered.
– Like losing your parents again
Recently, the perpetrator was sentenced in the Vestre Innlandet district court to compulsory mental health care. In other words, he is too ill to be punished.
In court, it emerged that the perpetrator in the time before the murders had described thoughts about acts of violence and that some of them had clear similarities to what happened to Robert’s parents.
The judge wrote that “the actions the defendant has committed are horrific and appalling”.
Man sentenced to compulsory mental health care for the double murder in Otta
The man in his 40s who killed a married couple in Otta last August has been sentenced to compulsory mental health care.
After the murders, the State Administrator in the Interior, those who are supposed to control the health services, investigated whether the man had received appropriate health care prior to the murder.
In February, the conclusion was reached.
– It was simply like losing your breath. I couldn’t believe what was written there. It was in a way like losing my parents all over again, says Robert.
The state administrator had concluded that the health care and follow-up the man had received in the time before the murders was good enough.
The conclusion is final, it is not possible to appeal.
– You feel a little powerless as an individual if you do not have the opportunity to either gain insight or be able to complain or do something about it.
This they answer
The county doctor, Harald Vallgårda at the State Administrator in the Interior, writes in an e-mail to VG that he has great sympathy for the bereaved.
He writes that he understands that questions are being raised about the conclusion.
– We have assumed that a specialist has made assessments of the patient’s condition, assessment of suicide risk and risk of violence, and that treatment measures were initiated with the offer of admission to the specialist health service and more frequent calls/contact.
He writes that the assessment is that health legislation was not broken in this case.
Herma (83) and Odd Gjetsund (88) were killed at Otta
A neighbor is charged with the murder. – They were just kind and calm people, says the chairman of the housing association about the murder victims.
– Assessing the risk of suicide and violence in an individual is difficult, and one cannot expect that health personnel will always be correct in such assessments.
However, the county doctor points out that the mapping of symptoms of psychosis can be improved.
He wants this now
– My goal is to start a debate about how we can improve the situation for psychiatry in Norway.
He refers to figures from Kripos. Almost every third murder and attempted murder between 2014 and 2021 was committed by people with serious mental disorders.
Now his own parents are also part of the statistics.
– It boils down to the fact that I do not want anyone else to experience what I have experienced. At least as few as possible. Right now, I think there are far too many people who get that experience.
Letter in the mail
In the aftermath of the murders, Robert has received many inquiries from people who themselves work in psychiatry and who want a change. Yesterday he received a letter in the mail.
– I would like more commitment from those who have managerial responsibility in Norwegian psychiatry, and from the authorities. Especially from the Minister of Health. What do they think about what has happened? Is it okay that so many murders in Norway are committed by seriously mentally ill people?
– We don’t hold any grudges
Robert and the family believe it is absolutely right that the sick perpetrator should not be punished, but that work must be done to prevent new murders.
– This is part of a larger whole. The patient must receive appropriate health care in time and society must have sufficient protection.
He has a clear message.
– It felt very right and important for us to say that we bear no grudge against that person or patients who are seriously mentally ill.
Published: 25/05/23 at 19:14
Tags: parents killed bear grudge perpetrator-