Mental Health Struggles Lead to Tragic Incident: A Veteran’s Perspective

Father of plantation family sought mental health assistance one year prior to murders – NBC 6 South Florida

A Plantation man who police say killed his wife and toddler before attempting to take his own life had recently reached out for help with his mental health, according to Army veteran and Purple Heart honoree Chris Haley. Forty-year-old Jean Carlos Aponte is in critical condition at the hospital after an apparent self-induced drug overdose.

On Tuesday, Aponte’s wife Sara Ashley Gama, 38, and 2-year-old son Ethan were found dead inside their home. Haley tells NBC6 on Wednesday that Aponte reached out to Catch a Lift Fund, a group that provides former service members with mental health support through working out. Haley accepted Aponte into the program. “It’s a bummer because that is the whole reason why our organization exists,” he said. “It’s to stop this from happening.”

Haley says that Aponte was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. “He had a very strong desire to make things right because he had a wife and kid on the way,” he said. “That was one of the things I remember very clearly: he wanted to do things right and be a positive example for his family.”

Police have not released any information about how or why Aponte allegedly killed his wife and child. According to Haley, “He was struggling” and wanted to get better. The investigation is still ongoing, with no charges filed as of yet. Police spent their Wednesday searching for what neighbors believe was a cellphone in a canal near their home.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or chat live at 988lifeline.org. You can also visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional support.

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Sophia Reynolds

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