EDITORIAL: Use heroin task force as model for domestic violence effort

York Dispatch

A mental health professional last week acknowledged something is seriously wrong in our little corner of Pennsylvania.

"Unfortunately, York County is a hot spot for murder-suicide," she said.

Such cases are not unheard of, unfortunately. But we can't recall a year when these explosions of violence occurred every month or two.

There have been four cases so far this year in which men murdered their domestic partners or former partners before turning their guns on themselves. In two cases, the gunman also claimed a second victim before committing suicide.

Coroner Pam Gay said 2015 is expected to be the worst in the last 20 years when it comes to the number of murder-suicides in York County.

Cindy Richard, director of Southern Community Services and the York County Suicide Prevention Coalition, is the mental health worker who identified our area as a "hot spot" of murder/suicides. Her comments were in response the the latest case, in which Springettsbury Township resident Brian Wilk killed his wife Donna Wilk last week then shot himself to death.

We're relieved professionals are acknowledging the troubling trend. But what now?

In the case of the local heroin epidemic, those closest to the problem — Gay and a counterpart in the district attorney's office — organized the York County Heroin Task last year.

When it became clear heroin-related deaths were on track to far surpass any previous year, organizers drafted members from all areas — law enforcement, health care, educators, clergy and elected officials.

It was a societal problem, they said, and it would take help from all walks of society to combat it. The task force has been very active and visible ever since, hosting regular public meetings throughout the county.

We think it's time the local community makes a similar "all-hands-on-deck" call to combat domestic violence - a concerted effort that matches the magnitude of the problem.

Richard said her organization and its community partners hope to make mental health and domestic violence top priorities within the York County community during the next fiscal year.

As well they should.

But we hope Richard and her colleagues are only the first to this table and that others heed this call to action.