Experts offer advise on guiding children through tragedy

Homicide, suicide on Burt Street in Springfield. (WDTN Photo/Jake Ryle)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Springfield police say all evidence leads investigators to believe that a woman shot her two sons then turned the gun on herself Wednesday morning in Springfield.

The mother, 32-year-old Rachel Johnson, and 7-year-old Daylan Johnson were pronounced dead at the scene.

Ayden Johnson, 10, was flown to Dayton Children’s Hospital where he died a short time later.

In light of this tragedy, parents and teachers now face the difficulty of helping the victims’ classmates cope with the sudden losses.

Dr. Gregory Ramey, executive director of pediatric Mental Health Resources at Dayton Children’s Hospital says there are different approaches parents should take.

“For the younger kids you need some type of metaphor or something that makes it a little more understandable,” Ramey says. “The best metaphor for young children is to use something related to illness. That is to say why the mom killed the child. That mom had a serious mental problem or illness. They were sick in the head is the words I would use with a young child. And that’s why they did this. The mom wasn’t acting normal. Normal moms don’t kill their children.”

That’s advice for parents of kids who ask them specifically about tragic incidents such as the deadly shooting in Springfield.

Ramey says if kids do not ask or express concern, it is probably best not to bring it up.

“In most situations I recommend that parents use events that are occuring in news as a great opportunity to bring up tough issues with their kids. This is an exception. The relationship between a young child and a parent is so intense that I think it would be extremely scary and incomprehensible for parents to begin the conversation of why did a parent kill a child.”

Dr. Ramey says that relationship between parents and children is so close, especially for those under the age of eight, that it would be nearly impossible to understand that someone they love and depend on, could actually hurt them. That is why he says if they don’t ask, you are better off leaving it alone. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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