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Florida man allegedly kills wife and son; sister says he was depressed about the COVID-19 pandemic



Image source: WESH-TV video screenshot

A Florida man reportedly shot and killed his wife and his son early Sunday morning, and his sister said depression caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may have played a role in the tragedy, WESH-TV reported.

What's the story? Smith Rivera, 59, allegedly shot his 57-year-old wife Jodie and his 21-year-old son Matthew sometime after midnight Sunday morning.

Police arrived at the scene at 1:15 a.m. to find the wife and son with gunshot wounds, and they were pronounced dead at the scene in the Orlando area. Rivera allegedly shot at another one of his sons, who was able to escape the house.

As police were investigating the scene, Smith Rivera pulled up in his car and reportedly confessed to shooting his wife, and was taken into custody. He has been charged with two counts of first degree murder with a firearm and one count of attempted murder with a firearm.

Depressed because of COVID-19? Rivera's sister, Mayra Berriel, said alcohol and depression may have led him to murder his family.

"With this pandemic he was depressed and he was drinking," Berriel told WESH. "Please pray for my family. ... My whole family is in shambles."

Mental health has become an increasingly alarming issue during the coronavirus pandemic, as months of stay-at-home orders nationwide left people isolated from loved ones and often unable to access mental health care resources. Studies have also shown a link between increased unemployment rates and increases in suicide and substance abuse.

From the Washington Post:

Mental-health experts are especially worried about the ongoing economic devastation. Research has established a strong link between economic upheaval and suicide and substance use. A study of the Great Recession that began in late 2007 found that for every percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, there was about a 1.6 percent increase in the suicide rate.

Using such estimations, a Texas nonprofit — Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute — created models that suggest if unemployment amid the coronavirus pandemic ends up rising 5 percentage points to a level similar to the Great Recession, an additional 4,000 people could die of suicide and an additional 4,800 from drug overdoses.

But if unemployment rises by 20 percentage points — to levels recorded during the 1930s Great Depression — suicides could increase by 18,000 and overdose deaths by more than 22,000, according to Meadows.

(H/T: New York Post)

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