In Wake of Hospital Shootings, Suicide Group Offers Tips for Prevention

 

Dr. Michael J. Davidson was shot and killed at Brigham and Women's Hospital on January 20th (Photo courtesy of Brigham and Women's Hospital)
Dr. Michael J. Davidson was killed on January 20th (Photo courtesy of Brigham and Women’s Hospital).

By Nikita Sampath
BU News Service

The Boston community was shaken last week by the shooting death of Dr. Michael Davidson, a man fondly remembered by colleagues and friends for his love for his family and his impressive career. The 44-year-old cardiovascular surgeon and father of three was shot at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on January 20 by 55-year-old Stephen Pasceri, a Millbury man whose mother was previously treated by Davidson. Pasceri killed himself after firing two fatal shots at Davidson.

From an outsider’s point of view, Pasceri seemed like a regular guy. According to the Boston Globe, he and his wife raised four children together, and he was known as “the church guy” in his neighborhood. One of Pasceri’s neighbors described him as “a calm, pleasant type of guy” who enjoyed camping with his family, the Globe report said.

When asked how someone described by family and friends as a regular guy could commit a murder-suicide, a spokesperson for a suicide prevention organization said that identifying the symptoms early on is key. Alexis O’Brien, Public Relations Director at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says that suicide is “one of our nation’s leading yet preventable causes of death.” But according to O’Brien, by identifying suicidal symptoms early, raising awareness and actively reducing the stigma that surrounds suicide in society, we may have a chance to prevent tragedies like the one Boston experienced last week.

Anne Dinoto, a volunteer with the Greater Boston Suicide Prevention Coalition, said she noticed that initial reports on the shooting did not mention the word suicide.

“All they said was ‘shooter, shooter.’ The fact is, suicide is itself murder. He [Pasceri] is a victim too. His family are victims too,” she said. Dinoto said her own family has lost two relatives to suicide.

Speaking with the Boston Herald, Marguerite Joly, Pasceri’s sister, said that she did not know how her brother could have committed such a horrible act, and said he must have snapped. But according to Dinoto, people don’t just suddenly snap.“Everybody who is upset with their doctor doesn’t kill,” she said.

People who are educated about suicide prevention know what signs to look for. Once they identify the signs there are a series of steps to be taken, one of which is to lock up any firearms in their possession. If you know of someone in distress, encourage them to seek help, provide them with mental health resources by visiting afsp.org, and follow up with them to ensure they are getting connected with help.

The Greater Boston Regional Suicide Prevention Coalition raises awareness about suicide as a public health crisis. The next coalition meeting will be held on March 5 at 9:30 a.m at Samaritans Hospital.

 

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