Network180: Sometimes few warning signs of suicide

George Heckman
An undated courtesy photo of George Heckman. (Pewamo-Westphalia Schools)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After a soon-to-be superintendent apparently shot and killed his son before turning the gun on himself, 24 Hour News 8 went to a Kent County mental health organization to learn the possible warning signs of suicide.

Network180 Executive Director Scott Gillman says the case of George Heckman and his 28-year-old son Grant, who had cerebral palsy, is extremely rare and was extremely violent.

Father and son were found dead inside a van along a dirt two-track near Carson City on Monday night. An autopsy found the men died of gunshot wounds and indicated George Heckman’s wounds were self-inflicted.

Gilman says parents who have children with disabilities often fear what will happen once they’re gone.

“It’s scary for a lot of parents to think about a future for their adult children, sometimes, when they might not be around,” Gilman said.

Gilman said people who may be thinking about suicide may give away their belongings or their behaviors may change.

“But sometimes it’s not always there, so one of the things that I’m pretty sure of is most people that have interacted with him over the last couple of years, I’m sure they’re replaying in their head over and over again what could I have done differently,” Gilman said.

He said it’s important to focus on positive coping methods because you may never understand the reasons why.

“It’s important because of his position in the community that people come together and understand how to heal at this point. Because there’s so many children, parents need to reassure kids, they need to let the kids ask questions, explain the things to them,” Gilman said.

There are support groups to help those who are thinking about suicide or suvivors.



National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255

CDC: Suicide prevention

Find mental health treatment resources near you