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Ongoing investigation looks to be a murder/suicide involving a mother and her 4-year-old son

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Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 5:13 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - At 5:20 p.m. Monday, Rapid City Police were called to 840 N. Spruce St. Upon their arrival, they found 26-year-old Trisha Paxton-Dennett and her 4-year-old son both dead of gunshot wounds in what is now being investigated as an apparent murder/suicide.

Rapid City Police Assistant Chief, Scott Sittz, says, “This event shocks the conscious and it’s hard to believe. That’s why we’re making sure we’re doing our due diligence [ and looking at] all avenues. All the evidence recovered at the scene, video surveillance... interviewing -- multiple interviews with neighbors, coworkers, witnesses, everything’s indicating murder/suicide at this point.”

According to Bridget Swier, Director of Communications and Outreach with the Front Porch Coalition, says they have tools to help prevent suicide and offer training to anyone in the community interested “on mental health, awareness abuse and trauma. We are there in those moments of crisis for families who have lost a loved to suicide. If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide you are a higher risk, actually a ten times higher risk, for struggling with suicidal ideation yourself.”

She says it’s possible for people not to seek help until it’s too late and that it “typically it takes four and a half years after someone has lost a loved one to suicide to seek out professional services.”

Their LOSS team (Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide) is made up of volunteers who have been impacted by suicide personally. Some tactics they use are asking the right questions where being specific is vital. For example, Swier says, “because is you say ‘are you thinking of doing something stupid,’ that’s very broad, very general, and people can evade the question.”

Then asking about if there’s a plan like, “do you have the means to do that? Do you know when you would do that? Do you know where you would do that,” Swier asks?

Finally, she says seeking the right services for them is paramount by “being compassionate and willing to support them as they seek those services, or as you assist them in seeking those services.”

She recommends support groups, but also looks to the public at large for help to let people know it’s okay not to be okay.

“People that are struggling with that self stigma and self blame,” says Swier. “Until we start take a community approach and breaking that stigma we are going to continue to have challenges and increased challenges in dealing with mental health.”

If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide or are worried about a loved one, the South Dakota suicide hotline can be reached at (800) 273-8255.

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