January 28, 2009

Tragic Beyond Belief

The death of an entire family at the hands of the father is always a disturbing and sad story and this one in particular was made all the more so for me because its a family that looks like mine. The Lupoe family was found dead a day ago. A suicide note faxed to a local tv station told the tale:

In a letter faxed to Los Angeles television station KABC before his suicide, Ervin Antonio Lupoe blamed his former employer for the deaths, detailing his grievance against Kaiser Permanente's West Los Angeles Medical Center, where he and his wife Ana had worked as technicians.

Lupoe, 40, claimed the couple was being investigated for "misrepresentation of our employment to an outside agency for the benefit to ourselves's [sic], childcare." He said the initial interview was held on December 19, and when he reported for work on December 23, "I was told by my administrator ... that 'You should not even have bothered to come to work today. You should have blown your brains out.'"

According to the news reports, Lupoe and his wife, distraught over the loss of both their jobs, concluded it was better to end their lives and that of their children rather than face going on destitute. I'm sure they were staring into the face of imminent financial ruin with the loss of both their incomes. They had apparently already taken their children out of school no doubt from financial strains.

Some reports indicate that Lupoe called 911 and claimed he returned home to find his family dead. That does not jibe with the suicide note claiming that it was the wife who suggested they would all be better off dead and I find it a bit hard to believe that both parents had an extreme death wish at the same time. So I think on further analysis that this trajedy will turn out to be the standard "family destroyer" scenario, where a man, facing financial ruin, ashamed and humiliated at his failure to take care of his family, kills them and himself.

Whether this story is truly one of two parents in such despair at their finances that they destroyed themselves and their family, or is yet another story of a man made desperate and overwhelmed by his obligations and taking care of his family, its a horrific tragedy. For me, its horror is magnified because his family looks like mine and because I know the taste of his fear, the sick feeling that you are going to fail in your job to take care of your family and that you will lose it all.

Even in my most desperate moments though, I would never think to kill my wife and children as the way out. How sad and dark the world of a person for whom killing his whole family is a better alternative to living.

Even if you would not make this decision, do you feel like you know their fear? Can you understand their desperation, if not their decision?