Saskatchewan

When economy suffers, violence can increase, crisis centre director says in wake of Kindersley murder-suicide

With the Kindersley, Sask., area reeling a murder-suicide, the director of a crisis centre in the community says issues surrounding violence and mental health are often closely tied to the performance of the area's economy.

'Pressures rise and fall according to how comfortable everybody is,' says West Central Crisis Centre director

An RCMP vehicle sits outside the Kindersley, Sask., house where police believe David Michael Gartner, 66, shot and killed his wife Elsie, 64, on Thursday. He then turned the gun on himself, police believe. (CBC)

With the Kindersley, Sask., area reeling from a murder-suicide this week, the director of a crisis centre in the community says issues surrounding violence and mental health are often closely tied to the performance of the area's economy.

"We do see those pressures rise and fall according to how comfortable everybody is in the economy," said Michelle Weber, who is the executive director of the West Central Crisis Centre based in Kindersley, about 185 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon.

RCMP said Friday they believe David Michael Gartner, 66, shot his estranged wife Elsie, 64, on Thursday and then turned the gun on himself.

Police said the couple were in the process of getting a divorce but had never come to the attention of the RCMP for any type of domestic violence situation. Elsie worked in a care home, while David worked in the oilfield, Kindersley Mayor Rod Perkins told CBC News.

Weber said the agriculture and energy sectors play large roles in the economy in that part of the province, and the constant fluctuation of those sectors can be stressful on people. 

"When they're on the low side, people … struggle," she said. "That also creates a lot of pressure in homes."

Michelle Weber, executive director of the West Central Crisis Centre, says violence and mental health are often closely tied to economic performance. (CBC )

Both the agriculture and energy sectors in the province have been under considerable stress recently.

Although she was not able to speak specifically about the Gartners' case, Weber said such tragic events can have major impacts in rural communities like Kindersley.

"The relationships are so strong and they're so intertwined," she said. "We have a community where everybody feels like family.

"This doesn't happen every day. So when it does happen, it's very shocking."

The town's mayor said the couple was well known in the community, where he believes they had lived for around 40 years.

Perkins said he's never seen an event like the one that happened Thursday in Kindersley in the 45 years he's lived there. 

The incident has shaken the community, he said.

"When the [Gartners] have been here that long, it touches a lot of people."


If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, help is available. For an emergency or crisis situation, call 911. You can also contact the Saskatchewan suicide prevention line toll-free, 24/7 at 1-833-456-4566, the Regina mobile crisis services suicide line at 306-525-5333 or Saskatoon mobile crisis line at 306-933-6200. You can also text CONNECT to 686868 and get immediate support from a crisis responder through the Crisis Text Line, powered by Kids Help Phone.

With files from Alicia Bridges and Radio-Canada