Mental illness ignored, family found dead in Springville
The town of Springville, Utah was in a state of shock and confusion following the deaths of five of its residents. What was even more shocking was that police, for the longest time, were unable to determine the cause of death; however, on Jan. 27, police finally uncovered the root cause.
According to The Daily News, in September 2014, five members of the Strack family were found dead in their bedroom. The victims included 37-year-old Benjamin Strack, 36-year-old Kristi Strack and their three children whose ages ranged between 11 and 14. When Springville law enforcement officers searched the home, they were unable to find any signs of trauma.
A breakthrough came for police four months after the tragedy. The Daily News reported that police revealed the deaths of the family were a result of a murder-suicide. Officers said the incident was caused by the use of drugs and further enhanced by Benjamin and Kristi’s “apocalyptic paranoia.”
According to The Daily News, the two youngest children were given fatal doses of diphenhydramine and methadone, while the parents committed suicide by overdosing themselves.
Benjamin took heroin while his wife used a mixture of methadone, dextrorphan, diphenhydramine and doxylamine, said The Salt Lake Tribune. After careful investigation the police ruled the deaths of two of the three Strack children as a homicide but said it was difficult to determine the cause of death for the eldest son.
“Because of his age, it is difficult to determine if he was capable to make a decision to commit suicide or to consent to join with his parents in committing suicide,” said a police news release as reported by The Salt Lake Tribune. “The other two children were obviously too young to consent to any sort of agreement to commit suicide.”
This brings up an extremely important point. Benjamin and Kristi clearly allowed their fear and paranoia of the impending “apocalypse” to severely cloud their judgment. So much so to the point that they felt the best option would be to not only end their lives, but also the lives of their children.
“Reading this article further unveiled my doubts in humanity. The parents’ decision to take their children’s lives was completely unethical,” said pre-business sophmore Nicholas Price.
“They should have taken into consideration what their children thought of the world, versus their own. It really makes me sad.”
But it seems that Benjamin and Kristi were behaving oddly before the deaths occurred.
According to a statement released by Springville Chief of Police J. Scott Finlayson and published on CNN, the parents had “a concern about a pending apocalypse.” Furthermore, the statement also added that suicide and “leaving the world” was a common thought of the Strack parents. The latter statement was determined after interviews with family and friends of the victims, reported CNN.
“While some friends thought that suicide may have been or could have been included in their plans, others believed they were going to move somewhere and live off the grid,” said the police statement.
CNN reported that there had been no suicide note left behind, except for one written by the Strack’s 14-year-old son. The police statement said the child left a note “bequeathing his personal possessions to a friend” and gave the impression he knew he was going to die.
“This was the only letter or note found that gave away any indication that family members knew what may transpire in the home,” said the police statement.
The most unfortunate fact about this tragedy is it could easily have been prevented. If Benjamin and Kristi were voicing their fears of the apocalypse and mentioning suicide, then someone should have gotten them the help they needed. It is inherently clear that mental illness played a large part in the deaths of these family members.
Since mental illness is such a taboo subject in our society, individuals tend to shy away from the topic and do everything they can to not talk about it; but people need to start talking about it.
Had someone taken Benjamin and Kristi’s words seriously, then it may have prevented the death of five individuals.
Opinion columnist Trishna Buch is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected].