Depression lies.

It tells you dying is better than living.

It just killed four people in Shaker Heights.

Police are calling it a murder-suicide

In this case, three murders, one suicide. The dad, who suffered with depression, left behind a note asking his own father for forgiveness.

The 9-1-1 call will break your heart.

And it will make you want to tell everyone you love with depression to get help.

There is help.

It’s not perfect help. But it’s better than what unfolded on South Woodland Road on a beautiful summer Sunday on Aug. 30.

An affluent family. A beautiful home. Twins in prestigious private schools.

Depression doesn’t care about any of that.

Depression doesn’t care what your income is or was. It doesn’t care what kind of house you have or where your kids go to school or how happy or unhappy your marriage is.

Depression doesn’t care that your kids have their whole lives ahead of them. Natalie was starting her freshman year at Laurel School, an all-girls private school. Her twin brother, Graham was a freshman at Gilmour Academy, a private school in Gates Mills. They were just 15.

Their grandfather, Phil Tobin, called police after he came home from church and found an email his son, John, sent at 9 a.m.

“It might be sort of dangerous,” Phil told the dispatcher.

Church. The man was in church praying while his son sent this farewell letter:

“Dear mom and dad, when you get this, please call Shaker police … The key is under the front mat. It’s safe for them to enter. They will know what to do. No words can assuage the pain I have caused you. Know that it was from love, forgive me, I love you. Know that we are together forever.”

“It sounds like he has committed suicide,” Phil told the dispatcher. “It sounds sort of bad.”

“He’s lost his job, his wife is just recovering from cancer and just last week his dog died. They were inseparable,” Phil said. “I know he’s quite depressed.”

The dispatcher asked, “Has he been diagnosed with any depression?”

Phil said, “I think he has it. We all have it.”

He goes on to name three family members with the disease.

When police checked on the house at

2:20 p.m. they found the bodies of all four family members.

Depression is a complex, complicated illness. It is not a character flaw or a weakness or a result of bad choices.

Those lies it tells you are actually cognitive distortions. They are part of the illness. They will grow louder and last longer if your depression is untreated. It’s the disease that is telling you no one will understand, that all is lost, that the world is better off without you, that death is the only way to end the pain for everyone.

John lost his job as vice president of development in the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals. His wife had cancer, then the dog died. It was a pile on. But underneath it all, at the earthquake epicenter, was the fault line: depression.

There is help. Please get it.

Save this column. Post it on your refrigerator. Carry it in your wallet. Tuck it in your purse. Tape it to your dashboard.

Here are four powerful reasons to get help or insist that the one you love gets help: Natalie, Graham, Regina and John.

Help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It offers support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those in emotional distress or who are suicidal.

Depression will lie and say medicine won’t help. The truth is anti-depressants have saved countless lives.

Depression will lie and tell you no one knows your pain. The truth is there are support groups everywhere and great psychotherapists who can help.

Depression will lie and tell you there is no hope. The truth is depression is a treatable illness.

Depression will lie and tell you suicide will end the pain.

It doesn’t tell you that it will cause a lifetime of pain to every single person you leave behind.

Read Regina Brett online at Connect with her on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans.


Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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