The man came home drunk and there was a small argument. That awakened the monster in him-he strangled her and their son and later surrendered to police. The whole locality, and we can assume even our readers, were shocked by this. But this wasn’t an isolated incident: in the last few months, there have been at least six reported incidents where a seemingly normal working individual wiped out his family in a fit of rage. And if we go back a little further, we will find that in the last two years, there have been many such incidents.
There’s a general tendency among investigators to put these cases under the umbrella of ‘crimes of passion’ -those that involve little or no planning and mostly happen on the spur of the moment. But upon closer look, deeper causes such as festering family problems have been found.
A crime team officer who has visited three such spots in the last three months says most accused are either caught from the spot or within hours of the crime. “Some even surrender after they realise the gravity of their crime. In seven out of 10 cases, neighbours tell us that they heard the couple fight and yell the night before murder,” he said.
Another officer pointed out that many such crimes are committed on birthdays, anniversaries or festivals.
An analysis of some of these cases reveals infidelity or suspicion of cheating was the crux of the problem. Financial crisis was another major factor. But in many cases, cops say, there was no apparent reason. The couples, though troubled, were happy enough.
Terming such acts as “extended suicides”, psychiatrists say usually such actions come to light after a person undergoes prolonged depression due to marital dispute, work pressure or financial constraints. “In such a state, the person does not think of his act as wrong. When he decides to end his life with his wife and children, he thinks he’s actually doing a favour to them,” said Nimesh Desai, a psychiatrist.
Experts also say timely intervention is key. At a later stage, the situation becomes difficult for both the counsellors and victims. A case in point is when the person survives a suicide bid after killing his/her family. “It becomes very difficult to support him emotionally and psychologically. Further, he is also tried under law,” Desai said.
Mental health experts like Avdhesh Sharma attribute these cases as fallout of fast-paced lifestyle where the couples are unable to bear with stress or problems. “Treatment of any sign of depression should be started without delay,” Sharma said.