On Thursday, Jason Aube’s foreclosed three-bedroom, two-bath Pittsburg home was scheduled to go up for auction.
Early that morning, the out-of-work, 40-year-old posted a suicide note on Facebook and at 4 a.m. called police to say he had shot his 35-year-old wife and her parents. He also said he was going to shoot himself.
Police rushed to his Jack London Court home and finally entered the house at 9 a.m. to find Aube and his family members dead.
Media reports quoted police as saying that Aube’s “financial stresses led to the shooting.” Aube and his wife, Cynthia Tiburcio-Aube, had filed for bankruptcy in 2009, saying they owned more than $500,000 for a home valued at $200,000, according to news reports.
The shooting and the couple’s plight, “increasingly common in the county’s prolonged economic downtown,” prompted Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover to release a statement, which, according to the Contra Costa Times, urged residents in similar straits to seek help by calling resources such as 211, the county’s emergency help line.
“This tragedy is the worst outcome you can think of resulting from the pressures of today’s world,” Glover told the Times. “For this family, it looks like the pressures became too much, and the world came crashing down.”
The news stories, and Glover’s statement, suggest that the economy and “the pressures of today’s world” caused this tragedy.
Given my politics, I usually would be one of the first to point the finger of blame at ethically challenged bankers or spineless and possibly insider-trading politicians for creating the conditions that led to the recession, the housing crisis and tragedies like this murder-suicide. But with this particular situation, my immediate thought was “Not everyone who has faced foreclosure over the past few years had taken a gun and opened fire on his loved ones and himself.”
I also re-read some of what has been uncovered about the psychological profile of people who commit what’s called familicide. I say “re-read” because I worked pretty extensively on researching murder-suicides for a story I did for Diablo magazine on a San Ramon mother who killed herself and her 3-year-old daughter.
In an article, “Murder-Suicide in Families,” the National Institute of Justice says that in almost all cases of familicide the killer is a white male. The leading risk factors are:
- A prior history of domestic violence
- Prior history of poor mental health or substance abuse, especially alcohol
- Threats, especially increased threats with increased specificity
A story published last week on Fox Business News quotes a Manhattan psychologist who says there has been a spike in murder-suicides nationwide since the 2008 recession. “Money and financial success and security are very closely tied to both physical and psychological well-being and self-esteem,” says Joseph Cilona. Without money and financial success, there is an increase “in general feelings of hopelessness, and dissatisfaction with life circumstances,” Cilona said. “All of these issues can be associated with suicidal thinking and violent behavior.”
But a domestic violence professional, echoing the views of other mental health experts, was quoted as saying that a bad economy doesn’t make someone abusive. It just takes someone who is already abusive and “increases the frequency and severity of abuse,” the article said.
So far, there has been no indication of a history of domestic violence or substance abuse in the Aube household. Obviously, though, Aube has access to firearms.