Many Florida residents are accustomed to sharing their daily activities with friends via Facebook and other social media networks. But the darker side of this phenomenon was on display recently when a 22-year-old Tennessee man took to his Facebook page to confess to the murder of two people, including his own mother, shortly before taking his own life.
According to an April 9 report in USA Today, the man published his post the day before. In it, he said that around 5 a.m. that morning, “I shot and killed my mother … and a close friend of mine … with a stolen .22 [long rifle].” He went on to describe the crimes in graphic detail, noting he killed one of the victims while he was sleeping and that he shot his mother “several times until she died.”
The man went onto say in his post that, “I take full responsibility for my actions. Nothing anyone has or hasn’t done to me caused this, my decisions and my failures are my own.” He said that he did not “want or need forgiveness from anyone,” and that anyone who wanted to help should direct their efforts towards his older brother, who he said “will probably need a lot of help getting through this.”
Police spent nearly a day looking for the man following his online confession. His body was ultimately located in Jasper County, Mississippi. According to the local sheriff, the man shot himself about 100 yards from his vehicle, which was abandoned somewhere on Interstate 59 in the unincorporated community of Vossburg.
The man’s older brother did speak with the press. He said that he received a text message indicating that his younger brother had sent him $250 for what were described as “Damages.” The older brother assumed from this cryptic message that his older brother had committed suicide. Only later did he learn about the murders.
According to the Washington Post, the older brother said he was an advocate of gun control, and that his younger brother actually shares his anti-gun views. The older brother speculated that his sibling, who attempted to kill himself at least twice before these events, was simply determined not to fail a third time.
The older brother noted his younger brother had suffered “from severe depression and had stayed briefly at mental-health facilities,” but he had no prior history of criminal behavior. Indeed, the older brother told the press, “No one ever said [his younger brother] was a harm to anybody else. No mental-health professional ever indicated any of that.”
Getting Help for Family Members in Mental Health or Legal Trouble
Obviously, this tragic story comes on the heels of the recent mass murder in Parkland, Florida, where the accused shooter’s mental state–and access to firearms–has been the subject of much public and political debate. But as the Tennessee man’s subsequent self-inflicted gunshot wound illustrates, the majority of gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides rather than homicides.
If you have a family member who is contemplating taking their own life, please encourage them to seek professional help or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And if you have reason to believe they may be involved in a criminal act arising from their mental health condition, seek legal advice by contacting the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth or calling 407) 377-0150 right away.