Religious Zealotry And Mental Illness: A Fatal Combination
A family of five was found dead in one room of their home in Springville, UT. An autopsy concluded Tuesday that the parents had killed their three children and fed themselves poison to escape a “pending Apocalypse.”
In September of 2014, parents Benjamin and Kristi Strack died from self-poisoning. Their kids, ages 11 and 12, died of homicide by poison, and their 14-year old’s cause of death is undetermined. The family was found in the master bedroom of their home by their oldest child, age 18 who is now the only surviving immediate family member.
Cups of red liquid were found in the bedroom with the deceased and is thought to be the fatal cocktail. There were many empty packages of cold and flu medicine, along with empty boxes of Methadone.
A letter left by the 14-year-old addressed to his best friend indicates the teenager knew he was going to die.
A relative to Ben and Kristi, Jake Strack, said:
I always expected something bad to happen to Ben and Kristi. But not of this magnitude. We never expected the children to be harmed.
Jake told People magazine that there were signs of mental illness before the tragedy, such as sporadic employment, substance abuse, isolation and depression.
Jake also said:
It’s much more likely that they were in a state of paranoia that they thought the end of the world was coming and their kids would suffer.
Now the relatives to the Stracks are committed to raising awareness about mental illness and are working with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The relatives believe fears of the Apocalypse were just paranoid manifestations of mental illness and wished they had seen the signs before the tragedy, but just weren’t equipped to recognize the symptoms.
Donations for the eldest Strack son are being accepted here.
If you or someone you know is showing signs of mental illness, depression or suicide, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.