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DA: Ruggles garage deaths were two murders and a suicide

Pascal

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins confirmed today that a West Roxbury woman killed her young children and then herself at the Renaissance parking garage near Ruggles station yesterday afternoon.

Rollins said the deaths of Erin Pascal, and her children, Alison, 4, and Andrew, 1 1/2, were the third, fourth and fifth suicide-related deaths at the garage this year. Asked at an afternoon press conference if Northeastern University, which owns the garage, could do anything to prevent suicides, she said "I would certainly hope so."

In addition to BC student Alexander Urtula, who threw himself from the top of the garage in May, another person committed suicide that way on Dec. 9, Rollins said.

Rollins did not specify how Pascal and their children died, between 1:25 and 1:35 p.m., but their bodies were found at the base of the garage and their SUV on the top level. She also did not say what led up to the deaths. She said investigators are treating it as two murders and a suicide.

She said for Pascal to do something like that, "her mental health struggles were severe." She urged anybody feeling that bad to seek mental-health help immediately. She said people could call the Samaritans at 877-870-HOPE (4673) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK.

Rollins added that she and other officials are also doing everything they can to get counseling help for first responders who arrived at the scene.

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Comments

My hometown had a parking garage that was just absurd for the township - 6 stories, literally 2 stories taller than anything else "downtown" (patronage project for a connected developer). Owned by the town, too.

You can imagine how that went. Cue the outrage, what was the city going to do, etc. Eventually they put up a vaguely complicated rigging of fencing and bars at the top, and between the floors. No more jumpers....

But of course people were still hurting themselves. Just not in a prime spot downtown where there were witnesses. But, y'know, out of sight, out of mind, everybody forgot about it.

Maybe if we invested in more mental health aid, social support networks, etc, we wouldn't have to pay for fencing all over the place.

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Northeastern Univ. owns the parking garage, not the city of Boston. Per Rachel Rollins, the city requested they take measures to deter suicides at their parking garage but they did nothing.

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Were you expecting compassion from an entity which lies to teenagers by accepting payment for applications that they never plan to accept, for the explicit purpose of boosting their rating in a magazine survey?

I don't like taxes, but if our leaders are going to continue to spend like crack addicts, maybe it's time Northeastern gets sent a bill. You know, right after the Catholic Church starts chipping in a few pennies.

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There was one high profile suicide and one that didn't make the news. There are literally hundreds of openly-accessible tall places around the city that people could jump from. They can't all be modified to stop someone who wants to jump. This garage NOW has developed a reputation for this and yes they will need some serious fencing to keep others from following this path. I don't think Northeastern did anything wrong. (BTW, this is a garage that pays a person to stand out front to alert pedestrians when a car is exiting to make sure everyone stays safe.)

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Death that may have been prevented is harsh. Have you seen the high fencing on bridges that are in place to deter suicide attempts? Are you anti those compassionate measures as well? Clearly you have not been impacted by someone taking their own life. Please try to find a place in your heart for compassion in the new year.

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AMEN BROKE MY HEART

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A common misconception about suicide is that people who are determined to kill themselves will find some means to do so, and so it is pointless to put up fencing on bridges, etc. Empirical studies have demonstrated that that is not so. (The Harvard School of Public Health has undertaken an initiative to address this misconception.)

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"But of course people were still hurting themselves. "

SOME people were still hurting themselves. SOME.

Every study ever written about this question has come with the same answer: when the public installs physical impediments to frustrate suicide attempts, a significant portion of the people turned away by them are turned away from suicide altogether.

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Holidays are hard for so many people, especially those who are already struggling. So sad that this mother saw this as the only solution. My heart goes out to the family and the first responders.

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I totally agree. Awfully sad that her last resort was that and she'd rather take her babies than leave them behind. My heart goes out in particular to the first responders who had to see that. They can never unsee such an awful thing. So sad when folks take these measures. Unfortunately, she was crying out for help and no one saw the signs. Sad all around.

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Absolutely tragic.

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Why are people blaming the garage/Northeastern?

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For choices made by people. But at the same time, if people keep using one of your facilities for suicides, it might be incumbent on you to figure out why and maybe do something - just like MassDOT put netting along the edges of the Tobin.

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according to one of the local NPR stations I listened to this morning.

Edit: from WBUR's report:

After Wednesday's incident, Northeastern says it's indefinitely blocked pedestrian and vehicle access to the top two floors of the Renaissance Park garage, and put 24-hour security in place to monitor the garage. The area will remain restricted, "until a permanent solution is implemented."

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Today is an extremely sad day as we begin to put together the pieces of a tragedy that took place yesterday, on Christmas, at the Renaissance parking garage. This horrible situation highlights the invisible struggles many members of our community confront and the devastation that can result.  Most importantly, I want to extend my sincere condolences to this family. Yesterday, the unspeakable happened and now we are all struggling to make sense of the circumstances surrounding these deaths. 

I have assigned one of the most experienced prosecutors in my office to lead the investigations into these deaths, as well as a Victim Witness Advocate to provide all of the supports and services that this family may need, now or at any point in the future.  I hope and trust that members of the media recognize the unspeakable grief that this family is experiencing, and that you will respect their privacy. 

Though we remain in the very early stages of our investigation, the evidence collected thus far suggests that these deaths, which occurred between approximately 1:25 and 1:35 pm yesterday, were likely a double murder-suicide.  The individuals have been identified as 40-year-old Erin Pascal of West Roxbury, and her two children, Allison (4-years-old) and Andrew (16-months-old).

As many of you are now aware, yesterday’s deaths sadly occurred at the same location as two other separate suicides this year.  The first occurred on May, 20th, the second occurred on December 9th. And yesterday, December 25th, marked the third separate tragedy, and the 3rd, 4th and 5th deaths at this Northeastern University Garage in the last seven months. 
It is my duty to say this - if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there are services available to help you.  Please utilize this help. You can call or text the Samaritans Statewide Hotline 877-870-HOPE (4673).  Help is also available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 800-273-TALK (8255); military veterans and their loved ones should press “1” for the Veterans Crisis Line.  The Trevor Lifeline is available to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and young adults at 866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386).  If you believe that you or another individual is at immediate risk of harm, you can always call 911. Additional resources can be found through the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Suicide. 

No matter the season, being a parent can be incredibly stressful.  There’s help available to any parent struggling with the emotional hardships of raising a family through the Parent Stress Line at 1-800-632-8188.

In closing, I want to say that every death in our community, whether homicide or suicide, has significant impacts. It can leave people in despair, traumatized, and feeling hopeless. For a parent to come to the place in which they harm their children in this way, indicates that their mental health struggles were severe and in need of immediate supports. Mental health issues are not specific to one type of individual. It has many faces. This Christmas Day tragedy demonstrates the urgency of addressing mental health, suicide and homicide. We have to do more to address these significant public health issues that impact all of us in Suffolk County. My office is committed fully to working with our partners to do so.
Lastly, I want to thank the first responders - Northeastern Police, Transit Police, Boston Police, EMS and my staff at the Suffolk County DA’s Office, all of whom where there in real time as this tragedy unfolded. The Mayor, Commissioner Gross, Chief Hooley, Chief Green, Superintendent Sullivan, the Northeastern Police and I are all deeply committed to getting our first responders the peer support and mental health treatment they deserve as they perform their jobs every day.

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Including the full list of "where" and "how" to get that help.

Most of the press outlets have been abbreviating this to "if you are losing it you should seek mental health help".

And leaving it at that - which is completely useless.

This has a solid and specific list of resources and contact info to work with.

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Such young children. Absolutely monstrous.

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Called on Northeastern to do something after the suicide on December 9th and the university ignored her.

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I'd guess they were working on how to proceed. Effective change doesn't happen overnight.

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And yet within hours of this tragic event they closed off the top floors.

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For the suicide on December 9th, 2019 - What happened? There is nothing (that I can find) regarding this case. Does anyone have any information or details? Who was it? Why aren't they getting coverage on THAT story? I smell a cover-up.

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We’re blaming the garage now? What about the huge lack of access to mental health services in the city? I’ve struggled with mental health issues and trying to find proper help in the city is so difficult and for me just made matters worse. But okay yeah let’s blame the parking garage.

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How does everybody know the mom was not getting treated for mental health? It seems there is nothing that can not be taken for another lap on our personal hobby horse. Lots of people getting mental health treatment taking antidepressants kill themselves and others.

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