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Editorial: Horrible act of violence

The tragic murder-suicide Monday involving Por Ye Lor and wife Zoua Xiong of Salisbury left three more victims, their young children.
The children are alive and well, but they’ll be dealing with the consequences of this violent moment for the rest of their lives. Authorities say their father went to the Lowe’s in Concord, fatally shot his wife, who was a cashier there, and turned the gun on himself.
It’s hard to imagine what would compel a man to kill his wife and himself and leave their children as orphans. Obsession? Anger? Fear? Mental illness? Whatever seized Por Ye Lor was so powerful it overrode all sense of reason and protectiveness. The only morsel of goodness in the act is the fact that no one else was hurt; all too often children or bystanders die when caught in the midst of these explosive situations.
Unfortunately, murder-suicides are not a rare occurrence. According to the Violence Policy Center, medical studies estimate between 1,000 and 1,500 deaths per year in the United States are the result of murder-suicide. Monday’s tragedy fits the usual pattern: A man uses a gun to kill his intimate partner, who is usually several years younger, and then himself. The average age difference was 6.3 years. Por Ye Lor was 31; Zoua Xiong was 25.
The one break with the usual pattern was the location of the killings. Usually these crimes occur in the home; Ziong took his murderous intent to his wife’s workplace.
Experts say murder-suicide deaths often follow a history of domestic violence; pre-existing mental health issues, including past suicide attempts; and a strong, emotional attachment to the victim — so strong and controlling that a love-hate relationship develops.
Neighbors interviewed by Post reporter Nathan Hardin shared no hint of discord from the couple’s neat, brick home on Meadowbrook’s Arbor Drive.
Financial stresses have been cited in more recent murder-suicides in the United States. Again, we don’t know if that was a factor in Monday’s incident. But we do know that the lingering recession and stalled recovery have put a lot of people under enormous pressure. Debt and depression often go together.
Por Ye Lor’s motivation died with him; investigators may never determine what drove him to such a horrible act. But others caught in seemingly hopeless situations need to know help is available.
• The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
• Locally, victims of domestic violence can call the Family Crisis Council at 704-636-4718 for help.
• The National Alliance on Mental Illness hotline can provide information, referrals, and support at 1-800-950-NAMI.
Tragedy can be averted when people are willing to reach out and ask for help.

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