Psychologists explain warning signs preceding a murder-suicide

PALM  BEACH COUNTY, Fla. -- One day after police said a husband walked into his wife's office on the fifth floor of the Comerica Bank building in Boca Raton, killed her and then killed himself, psychologists cautioned that murder-suicides were often preceded by red flags or warning signs that were often missed by close friends and family members.

Investigators have not said if they had discovered information that would establish a motive in connection with the deaths of Scott Edgerton and Sharon Bellingham, but Randee Kogan, a lead therapist at the Palm Beach County Victim Services Division, said victims are sometimes abused before their deaths.

"Many times, the abuser will say, "If I can't have you, nobody will." They will follow through [and] they will take their victim with them," Kogan said.

According to the Violence Policy Center, Florida has one of the highest murder-suicide rates in the nation.

The victims are almost always husbands or wives or boyfriends or girlfriends.

Men usually kill before killing themselves.

Nearly every murder-suicide involves a gun.

"Many times, a victim will hide the abuse from family and friends. It may be going on the whole time of their marriage or relationship and the victim is hiding it from friends and family. Or, they've been threatened," Kogan said. "If they do tell, major consequences will come about. On the outside, it may look like [a] happy, go-lucky couple. As soon as they're home, the abuse just continues."

Kogan said some of the red flags and warning signs included possessive, controlling behaviors, isolation from family and friends and physical, sexual or verbal assault.

She encouraged family and friends to reach out if they suspected a problem.

"If they're not hearing from them as much, if they notice mood changes, if they notice that they're dressing differently [or] if they notice that they're eating more or less, these are certain signs," Kogan said. "Friends and family, if they do recognize it, need to speak out."

211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast offers 24-hour crisis intervention and information services.



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