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Relatives discuss mental illness, warning signs after 5 found dead inside Springville home

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Posted at 10:15 PM, Nov 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-20 10:37:00-05

SPRINGVILLE, Utah -- On September 27, a couple and their three young children were found dead inside their Springville home.

Near their bodies, police found empty boxes of cold and flu medicine.

Relatives believe it was the parents, Ben and Kristi Strack, who decided to kill their children and commit suicide. But rather than place blame, they want to look at the cause, which they believe was an ongoing battle with mental illness and substance abuse.

“It was very surreal," Isaac Strack said. "You don’t expect something like that to happen."

Nearly two months later, Isaac Strack and his sibling Jacob Strack are hoping the loss can save lives in the future.

“This one action doesn’t define Ben and Kristi,” Jacob Strack said. “In the end, they were victims, as well. They were victims of their own mind.”

While the two brothers are close, they had not seen their family in Springville in years because of the issues the couple struggled with regularly.

“There were signs there,” Isaac Strack said. “But we weren’t able to recognize them because we weren’t qualified to recognize them.”

The Stracks had never been properly treated for their problems, which the brothers believe had worsened in the days leading up to the deaths.

“In this case there were some signs like isolation, missing work, depression,” Isaac Strack said.

In the days after police began their investigation, the family discovered another missed sign, left by one of the children.

“We found a notebook. In the notebook was a letter to a friend,” explained Isaac Strack. “It was basically a goodbye letter. It was a pretty clear indication that he expected some day to be found dead.”

Initially, the brothers tried to understand what drove their family to this point, however, that is no longer their goal.

“'Why?' isn’t the point,” Jacob Strack said. “I don’t care about the why anymore. It’s not going to help anybody.”

Their focus is now on preventing a similar tragedy from occurring again.

“We go see a doctor at least once a year," Isaac Strack said. "We go see a dentist every 6 months. We get our oil changed, but we don’t do anything for our mental health. There is a stigma that follows it.”

The two hope their story can start a conversation about mental health services, something they plan to dedicate their lives to in memory of the ones they lost.

“If our reaching out can help just one person out there, help one person to not have to go through what we’ve gone through, then it’s all worth it,” Isaac Strack said. “That’s all that matters now.”

In an effort to increase awareness about mental health services, the family is working with the non-profit organization, National Alliance on Mental Illness. For more information, please visit nami.org

If you would like to speak with someone immediately, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

In an effort to assist the eldest Strack son, donations are being accepted here.