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Following SLC murder-suicide, parents wonder how to help children deal with incident

Posted at 4:22 PM, May 20, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — As Salt Lake City police continue their investigation after a father allegedly killed his 6-year-old son in a murder-suicide, health professionals spoke about the tough conversations that can come for parents following the incident.

"We struggle with not lying to the kids, but in a situation like this, a parent even saying, 'Well, you know, he died,' kids were going to want to know how he died," explained child and family therapist, Dr. Douglas Goldsmith.

Officers were called to a home on Van Buren Avenue in the Ballpark Neighborhood late Saturday, and inside they found the bodies of 34-year-old Samuel Owen and his son. Police believe Owen killed his son before taking his own life.

"I would encourage the parents of that school today to say, 'How was school? Did you hear about anything happening in school today?' Feel that out," Goldsmith said. 

The doctor had a message for parents of children who went to school with the six-year-old victim. 

"First, finding out if the kids know what they've heard, clarifying, yes, being honest. Yes, we heard and we saw in the news that that happened and this is really tragic and mom and dad are feeling terribly, terribly sad that such a thing would happen," he explained. 

Goldsmith says many adults and parents may be overwhelmed by the incident, but that they need to be careful to not overwhelm children who may be impacted as well.

"I would have the parents of the older children say, 'Yes, we heard, that's true and we don't know why and that really, really rarely, rarely happens, but his daddy must have really been so sad and it's too bad that he didn't reach out for help," the doctor added.

Police say the family is asking for privacy following the incident.