Relative of Lionel Desmond wants NS murder-suicide to prevent more tragedies

Click to play video: 'Shanna Desmond remembered as hopeful, resolute as 2nd funeral is held in NS'
Shanna Desmond remembered as hopeful, resolute as 2nd funeral is held in NS
WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds of mourners descended upon the community of Tracadie Thursday to pay their respects to Shanna Desmond and her 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah. Global’s Jennifer Grudic reports – Jan 12, 2017

A relative of Lionel Desmond is hoping public knowledge of the triple murder-suicide that took the life of the former soldier and his wife, mother and child in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S. will help in preventing similar tragedies in the future.

READ MORE: Shanna Desmond remembered as hopeful, resolute as 2nd funeral is held in NS

Rev. Elaine Walcott said Thursday that people should not forget what happened in the rural Nova Scotia community last Tuesday evening.

“It’s important because we don’t want other families to have our experience, to have the soul damage done to us,” Walcott said.

Desmond, 33, died last Tuesday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound he received after he shot and killed his wife Shanna, 31, mother Brenda, 52, and 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah in a triple murder-suicide.

Story continues below advertisement

The 33-year-old had recently served in Afghanistan as a member of the Canadian Forces, Shanna’s aunt Catherine Hartling told Global News last week. After returning to Canada, he sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Walcott said Desmond’s PTSD was a constant presence in the family’s life.

READ MORE: Lionel Desmond murder-suicide a ‘horrific tragedy’ priest says during funeral

“We know that Shanna knew the beast that Lionel looked in the mirror and saw to the point that our Lionel Desmond named himself Lionel Demon,” Walcott said. “He was speaking of his interaction, his reality, his combat training, his feeling when he was out of control that he had to remove his self to keep his family safe. If you come out of a post-traumatic stress situation, you come out by the grace of God. Our Lionel did not.”

She said she is hoping the Desmonds’ home is eventually put to good use.

“I would like that site, that home, to be turned into a post-traumatic stress disorder clinic for those that serve from my area,” Walcott said. “I think it’s a powerful image to turn a war zone to one to help veterans.

READ MORE: ‘I will fix it,’ Lionel Desmond said before Nova Scotia murder-suicides

Funerals held

On Wednesday, the funeral for Desmond and his mother was held at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Tracadie, N.S. with more than 300 people in the pews, as well as people crowding into the entryway and outside the church.

Story continues below advertisement

Shanna and Aaliyah’s funeral, which also saw hundreds of mourners, was held the next day at Monsignor R. Donnelly Hall across from the church.

Family members told Global News two separate funerals were held because of religious denominations: one family is Roman Catholic, the other is Jehovah’s Witness.

Walcott said she’s concerned what the tragedy will mean for her community and for the family.

“The reality in this community is that a mother yesterday buried a child and a grandchild,” she said. “The reality of this community today is that a mother buried a child and grandchild.”

READ MORE: PTSD not the only factor in Nova Scotia triple murder-suicide, experts suggest

More help needed

Following the murder-suicide, renewed calls were made for better transition services for military veterans when they returned from service. That call is echoed by Walcott, but she added it’s not only veterans who need support.

“I think there needs to be help, not just for the individual coming home, but all of those with whom they share their lives,” Walcott said. “I think the vibrations of post-traumatic stress disorder will be felt in my community for years to come and I would like my family members to be able to access, from a lens of understanding, that which shakes them from those vibrations.”

Story continues below advertisement

She said she feels steps are being taken by the federal government, such as re-opening the Veterans Affairs office in Sydney, N.S. before Christmas. But she said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to keep listening to people to know how to help those who need it.

READ MORE: Family ‘trying to hang in there’ following Nova Scotia murder-suicide

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911. 911 can send immediate help. For a list of available mental health programs and services around Canada, click here.

Sponsored content