Police investigated a Missouri family's home after their son didn't show up to school, only to discover the child alone and his parents dead following an apparent murder-suicide.
The parents, identified as 50-year-old James Delao and 46-year-old Kimberly Delao, were believed to have died late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, The Associated Press reported.
Valley Park School District called police after the couple’s 6-year-old child did not show up for school the following Monday.
When authorities arrived, the child opened the door and both parents were found dead. The parents died from stab wounds, KMOV reports.
Officials came to the conclusion that James stabbed Kimberly first and then killed himself.
Their son was not harmed, and was released to the St. Louis County Family Court.
It was initially unclear as to what the motives behind the murder-suicide were. Neighbors said both parents had children from previous marriages, and the boy was close to his siblings.
According to statistics released by the American Association of Suicidology, suicide kills more people in Missouri than fatal motor accidents and homicides combined, the Southest Missourian reported.
Missouri experiences a higher number of suicides than the national average, ranking almost in the top one-third of states in the country for suicide rates, with those numbers expected to rise.
Mental health professionals said many factors can lead to someone taking their own life, ranging from biology to stress. They advised the public to encourage individuals at risk to open up.
"The most important thing is when you see some of the warning signs, such as being depressed or high-stress situations, just to start the dialogue with them," Michael Hester, a licensed professional counselor and co-occurring disorder specialist, told the Southeast Missourian.
"Some people are afraid if I say something, if I ask them, I will put it in their mind. Most people are going to tell you [if they're having suicidal thoughts]."