Denton, Texas - A tragic murder-suicide in Denton is indicative of a growing problem among the elderly.
Denton Police say Joe Bain, 79, killed his ailing wife before turning the gun on himself last Saturday afternoon.
According to a police affidavit, Bain called 9-1-1 and confessed, saying, "he had just taken the life of his beloved wife Ruth."
He told the operator "there was no way they were going to a nursing home.”
"I am sorry to all of our friends," he added, according to the document.
When police arrived at their home on Royal Oaks Place, they found Ruth Bain, 82, dead on the couch from an apparent gunshot wound to her head. Her husband was lying on the floor, also with a gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to the hospital but died of his injury the next day.
"It appeared that she had been asleep when she was shot," said Officer Shane Kizer with Denton Police. "It doesn't sound like there was any struggle. it doesn't sound like there was any animosity from him towards her."
The Bains had been married nearly 30 years, and what happened inside the house has shocked their neighbors and extended family. They were by all accounts a happy and devoted couple.
Denton Police say that both Bains suffered from some illnesses, and that Ruth's was debilitating. Joe Bain had apparently been her caretaker.
The sad case in Denton highlights a significant problem. The violence Policy Center says murder-suicides among the elderly increased 10% from 2005 to 2014.
"In the studies that have been done on these type of murder-suicides, that is one of the causes often, failing health and having to go to a nursing home," said Dr. Nishendu Vasavada.
Dr. Vasavada is a psychiatrist with Lakeside Life Center in Carrollton. He believes more focus is needed on mental healthcare for the elderly, an age when depression can set in, especially for caretakers with an ailing spouse.
"They don't want to lose their independence and depend on other people," said Dr. Vasavada. "They see it as a sort of painful condition to be in a nursing home."
The suicide rate has also been rising among the elderly. In the 85 or older age group, the rate stands at 19.4, the second-highest of any age group, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"The worst part is that it's going up. There are very few diseases where the death rate is going up, and suicide is one of them," said Vasavada.
He says trouble can often go unnoticed, and it's crucial for extended family to stay connected with elderly relatives and provide support.
"Contact is critical," Dr. Vasavada said. "Getting appropriate care for the family and early on, deciding what do they want as a couple."
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