Earlier this week, longtime atheist activist Scott Smith killed his wife Jennifer Smith, then himself, in what authorities called a “suspected murder-suicide.” Their three daughters no longer have their parents.
We still don’t know why this happened — the story includes elements of PTSD, mental illness, domestic violence, and access to a gun — but Seth Andrews attempted to shed new light on the situation by speaking with as many people as he could (on short notice) who knew the couple.
He spoke with Aaron Smith (Scott’s 27-year-old son from a previous relationship), a panel of people from San Antonio who knew the couple personally (including Scott’s podcast co-host), and mental health professional Hector Garcia.
I listened to the conversations last night. It didn’t bring any real closure to the situation — as if anything could — but what struck me is how shocking all of this was to people who were very close to Smith. They didn’t see this coming. There were no red flags. They had no reason to intervene. Which is another way of saying the warning signs weren’t obvious even to people who knew him well.
What can we do now? We can keep Jennifer in our thoughts. We can donate to the GoFundMe page set up to help the three young girls. And we can continue to be vigilant in the fight for better access to mental health services and stronger gun safety measures. It’s hard to know if those things would’ve prevented this tragedy, but they may prevent other ones in the future.