Family murder-suicides associated with depression, control, abuse

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News 12 First at Five, November 28, 2007

AIKEN, SC - An Aiken man shoots and kills his two daughters and then turns the gun on himself.

It happened in Aiken Tuesday afternoon -- less than a month after a similar incident in Edgefield County where Robert Herring shot and killed his wife and stepdaughter before killing himself.

Kay Mixon is the Director of the Aiken County domestic abuse center. She says most times abuse plays a factor in suicides.

"It's not rare to see a suicide after a domestic because he knows then that he's gone too far and that he's going to spend the rest of his life, maybe, in prison. So, he takes himself out," says Mixon.

The man responsible for the double murder-suicide in Aiken, Alton Beasley, and his wife were getting a divorce.

In court papers filed by Alton's wife, Willa Beasley, she says she was divorcing her husband because of physical and verbal abuse.

On Tuesday afternoon Alton's wife and two daughters were eating lunch at their grandmother's house when Alton showed up unexpected -- shot and killed his two daughters and then himself.

"They will follow you in an automobile and go anywhere you're going and when that happens and calling you also -- you really need to run," says Mixon.

Cam Varner deals with suicide prevention and says sometimes the holiday season brings out the worst in people.

"What we especially see during holiday season and during the winter months when there's less sunshine is a greater degree of depression," said Varner.

Varner says divorces can often trigger suicidal behavior. Mixon adds --a divorce for an abuser is a sign of losing control -- and abusers can't handle that.

"They have to have control. They have to have it. And therefore, if you take it away from them, they have nothing," said Mixon.

For the Suicide Prevention Hotline, you can dial 211 from anywhere in the CSRA. If you're in an abuse relationship and need help getting out, contact the Cumbee Center of Aiken at 803-641-4162 or Safe Homes in Augusta at (706) 736-2499.

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