77-year-old man kills wife, then himself over health care costs

Posted: 10:44 PM, Aug 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-10 11:30:29-04

FERNDALE, Wash. — A 911 call made Wednesday morning ended in tragedy when deputies found a 77-year-old man and his wife dead in an apparent murder-suicide.

According to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded about 8:30 a.m. to the Ferndale home after the man called 911 and told the dispatcher, “I am going to shoot myself.”

He told the 911 operator that he left a note with information and instructions. The dispatcher tried to keep the man on the line, but he ended the call after saying, “We will be in the front bedroom.”

Deputies set up a perimeter around the house, and a crisis negotiator tried for an hour to contact the people inside using a phone and a loud hailer, the sheriff’s office said. When that didn’t work, deputies deployed a robotic camera, which found the man and his 76-year-old wife were both dead from gunshot wounds.

According to the sheriff’s office, there were several notes left in the home, citing ongoing severe medical problems with the wife and concern that the couple didn’t have enough money to pay for her health care. One of the notes also listed next-of-kin. Deputies are working with law enforcement from out of state to notify relatives.

There were also two dogs inside the home when the couple was found. They’ve been turned over to the Humane Society.

“It is very tragic that one of our senior citizens would find himself in such desperate circumstances where he felt murder and suicide were the only option,” Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said. “Help is always available with a call to 911.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). It’s a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within the tri-state area and the nation.

Depression and suicidal thoughts are often exhibited in many ways. Warning signs for suicide can include, but are not limited to, talking about wanting to die; conveying feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or being a burden; and displaying extreme moods.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention advises that you do not leave the person alone, call a prevention hotline, and take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

For more information on suicide prevention, including additional resources and warning signs, you can visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.