Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Alex Cabrero ReportingThe story of Romeo and Juliet may be the easiest way to explain yesterday’s shootings in Cottonwood Hospital. An elderly man shot his wife, a patient there, then shot himself. Both died. Police say a letter left behind by the woman indicated she wanted to die.
This couple had been together more than 50 years, but it appears the wife knew her life was ending and no longer wanted to feel as if she was a burden. It's a very sad story that didn't have to end this way.
All it takes is a phone call and Kelli Polcha can help.
Kelli Polcha: “It’s good to ask for help.”
But as a program manager for Salt Lake County Aging Services, her phone isn't ringing nearly as often as she'd like.
Kelli Polcha: “They have a very difficult time asking for help, even in situations that aren’t maybe quite as dramatic as this one.”
And this one is as dramatic as it gets. 84-year old Kimball Jencks and his 81-year old wife Beata lived in their Murray home for as long as anyone here can remember.
Jerry Towers: “They were good neighbors, loved to have them in the neighborhood.”
Now neighbors like Jerry Towers can't believe they're gone.
Jerry Towers: “You’d drive by once in a while when he was out, he was an older gentleman and if he noticed you, he’d wave and you’d wave back.” Neighbor
But for as friendly as the Jencks seemed to be, neighbors say they were also always alone -- no close friends, no family.
Natalie Thornley, Valley Mental Health: "People don't want to be a burden, that's the biggest thing we hear. I don't want to be a burden, I can do it on my own. And asking for help is okay. Some people want to help."
But the Jencks must've felt it was too late, that caring for Mrs. Jencks was too much and Mr. Jencks couldn't go on without her. So, it appears they agreed to leave together.
Kelli Polcha: “I’m sure this man felt like he’d be alone for the rest of his life, and that can be a pretty scary prospect.”
The tragic thing is, there are several programs that could make being alone less scary.
Kelli Polcha: "If they need help with someone to bathe them because they're not so steady in the shower, if they need help with housekeeping, laundry, preparing a meal."
But making that phone call is the hardest part.
Kelli Polcha: "It is a tough generation. They're used to being strong and being the caretakers for so many years, and now they're looking for someone else to help them, and they're not used to doing that."
Police are calling this case a murder-suicide. They tried to find family members, but say there aren't any -- they were alone. This is why getting help, especially for the elderly, is very important.