Warning: This article is about suicide and may be distressing for some readers.
A surgeon killed his two children and then himself because he was suffering from depression and was afraid they would grow up suffering with the same mental health problems, according to the man’s obituary.
Dr Christopher Dawson committed suicide early on Saturday morning (local time) after killing his daughter Aubrey, 5, and son Luke, 9, at their home in North Richland Hills, a suburb of Dallas, Texas.
Their mother, Rachel Dawson, was unharmed and found their dead bodies around 6.30am (local time) and immediately called the police, according to the Daily Mail.
All three are being memorialised today; the children had a joint service at 10am and the husband’s was at 2pm.
Dawson’s obituary says that the 36-year-old was suffering from depression and addiction when he decided to take his life.
“After years of suffering with anxiety, depression set hold and Chris was unable to escape its clutch,” the obituary reads.
He is also described as a loving father who spent a lot of time with his children, and their brutal slaying, according to the obituary, was out of mercy.
“He helped Luke through a lot of his anxiety, but was overwhelmed with the thought of Luke growing up to be like him,” it says.
Dawson, the obituary says, received his medical degree and did his surgical residency in Phoenix, before being taken over by his anxiety.
He and Rachel are also said to have had marital problems, but didn’t let that affect their relationship with their children.
“Chris and Rachel started having extreme marital problems, but the children were always loved above all,” the obituary reads.
When the anxiety and depression got to be too much, Dawson started to self-0medicate because he was afraid of the “repercussions of his career if he were to get professional”.
It’s not clear what he was using to self-medicate, but the substance became an addiction, according to his obituary.
And when it all got to be too much, he ended his life.
“On Saturday morning, while not in his right mind, he did the unimaginable,” the obituary says.
He was employed for a short period at the Baylor University hospital, from September 4 to October 20, 2017. It’s not clear why he left the job, and in what circumstances.
A medical report shows that Dawson injured Aubrey in the head and Luke in the head and torso.
Luke was described in his obituary as “fearless” and with a “contagious personality” and played multiple sports including basketball, baseball and his favorite, soccer.
Aubrey, who was called Bree, loved playing in her toy kitchen and wanted to be a nurse like her mom.
Neighbours told the Star-Telegram they heard a loud bang at about 6.30am. Police say they found the bodies just after 7am.
“Me and my girlfriend were getting ready to leave for work and we had one of the windows open,” Tanner Franklin said.
“We heard some weird like yelp-type thing. She was like, ‘Did you hear that?’ I thought it was an animal or something.”
Other Neighbours said they heard screams early in the morning before seeing the mother leave with police officers.
The family had reportedly only recently moved to the area, and neighbours thought they seemed normal.
But a previous neighbour, from when the family lived in Phoenix, said there were “warning signs” and claimed the father was abusive.
“He was very, very controlling of Rachel to the extent that after a certain point he no longer allowed her to be friends with us,” Arial Borg told 12News.
“We saw warning signs but I don’t think anyone could have guessed that this would’ve happened. It shocked everyone.”
Another neighbour, Karen Banner, spoke to NBC5 about the horrific event.
“Losing two kids right here at Christmas time, that’s tough,” she said.
“They’re the only ones that had little kids. All the kids around here are grown and gone.’”
In a statement provided to the Houston Chronicle, Dawson’s former employer Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Waxahachie said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and all of those affected by this tragedy. Dr. Christopher Dawson was employed September 4, 2017, through October 20, 2017.”
A GoFundMe was set up for Rachel Dawson to pay for all memorial services. On Thursday it had raised more than US$47,000 (NZ$67,240).
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757