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Murder-suicide highlights growing problem of elderly depression

By Norman De Bono, The London Free Press

A distraught Abe and Heidi Hajjar absorb the news that their neighbours  Edward and Magda Amler died of injuries sustained in their home at 223 Burlington St. home in London, Ontario on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. (DEREK RUTTAN/QMI Agency)

A distraught Abe and Heidi Hajjar absorb the news that their neighbours Edward and Magda Amler died of injuries sustained in their home at 223 Burlington St. home in London, Ontario on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. (DEREK RUTTAN/QMI Agency)

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LONDON, Ont. — Abe Hajjar watched as the bodies of his best friends were carried from their home, an elderly couple who couldn't cope any longer.

On a cold December day in 2012, Ed and Magda Amler were found dead in their London home from gunshot wounds. The murder-suicide was the final act of a desperate couple.

They were both 88 years old and didn't have any children. Magda Amler's health was failing.

"They were left alone," Hajjar said.

The deaths were a blow to Hajjar, 68, a retired realtor who was friends with the couple for decades.

"I'm still trying to forget, still trying to cope with it. It's not easy."

Though society focuses on physical health issues for seniors, more emotional and psychological support is needed, Hajjar believes.

"There was no one to take care of them, they only had each other," Hajjar said of the Amlers.

Their deaths were a shock to friends who said they didn't see any signs before the murder-suicide.

Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1965, have a higher suicide rate than previous generations.

Haijar would like to see an "army" of volunteers visiting seniors several times a week, engaging them to stave off depression.

"Bring them a cake, a flower, have a coffee, it will rejuvenate their lives. If a person wants to take their own life, there is nothing that can stop that but we can avert this tragedy. This is not acceptable in a civilized society."


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