Man posts Facebook status right before killing his wife & himself

An anguished husband in Dover, New Hampshire, shot his wife then turned the gun on himself within a local hospital at around 6 a.m. on December 30, only minutes after detailing his murder-suicide plan in a Facebook post. Mark Lavoie's actions were not motivated by jealousy, rage, or contempt, making this no run-of-the-mill crime of passion. The reason for the murder-suicide will surely shock you.

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Instead, Lavoie saw the murder of his wife Kathy--who was on a respirator at the Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover after an apparent suicide attempt--as a mercy killing that would shelter her from any further suffering.

In a heartbreaking Facebook post, the 50-year-old Lavoie hinted that his wife had attempted to commit suicide in an attempt "to escape the bipolar demons swirling around in her brain since childhood." He then revealed that, because of his "selfishness," his desire to hold on to his beloved wife, he'd called 911 and begged emergency workers to save her life. Apparently, however, Kathy's suicide attempt had resulted in such severe organ failure that she had to be put on life support--something her husband said she'd always feared.

By shooting his wife, then, Lavoie believed he was righting his wrongs and respecting Kathy's wishes, her desire to finally rest in peace. And, since he couldn't imagine life without her, Mark decided he'd take his own life immediately thereafter so as to "join her spirit in a happier place."

Lavoie's Facebook post was meant to serve several purposes: to explain the thought process behind his actions to perplexed friends and family members, to instruct close ones on how to divide the couple's assets and how to dispose of the bodies (he suggested spreading Kathy's ashes in a lake she'd always loved), and to say a final goodbye.

The story reads like a Shakespearean tragedy, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story. I find it difficult to judge Mark Lavoie's actions--to condone or condemn what he ultimately did. It's unclear whether Kathy could have eventually made a full recovery or if doctors had intimated that she was permanently brain dead, but I'd assume that, given the severity of Lavoie's actions, the latter was probably the prevalent diagnosis. He knew his wife had been in tremendous pain as a result of her mental illness and that she wanted the turmoil to end, and he felt guilty that he had deprived her of that serenity. To him, this was a mercy killing, the ultimate act of love and self-sacrifice.

Rather than debate the rights or wrongs of Lavoie's actions, I find myself questioning the health care system in this country and the lack of support found by those struggling with mental illnesses--not to mention the stigma surrounding these conditions, which make it all the more difficult for those affected to seek the help they need without shame. If Kathy had received the proper treatment, would she be living a happy and fulfilling life with her husband? Would she ever have resorted to taking her own life? Perhaps those are the questions we need to ponder here.

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: crime  murder  suicide  murder-suicide  bipolar disease  shooting  depression