(WGGB/WSHM) - A 40-year-old mother and her two young children were found dead on the sidewalk next to a parking garage following an apparent double-murder suicide on Christmas Day.

Now, the Suffolk County District Attorney is encouraging mental health services for anyone who may need them.

"For a parent to come to a place in which they harm their children this way indicates health struggles were severe," Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins tells us.

40-year-old Erin Pascal and her two young children, 4-year-old Allison and 1-year-old Andrew, died on Christmas Day from what Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins says at this time appears to be a double murder suicide.

"This is a mother who had two young, children and women often are at risk of developing depression when they are parents of newborn and young children," Barry Sarvet, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Baystate Health, explained.

While the exact details of this particular case are still under investigation, Barry tells Western Mass News in general, post partum depression is common in new moms and, if untreated, can progress.

"Sometimes it can become more and more severe over the course of a year and develop into a psychosis," continued Sarvet.

Which is why he says prevention is so important.

"Depression often makes people feel more disconnected from others around them," says Sarvet.

Making it difficult to help someone you know who is depressed.

"Sometimes people want to avoid people with depression, because they're bringing other people down," said Sarvet.

Look out for signs like irritability or anger.

"They become withdrawn," stated Sarvet.

Sarvet notes some depression sufferers can even be superficially cheerful, so approach with compassion.

"Asking them how they're feeling, letting them know there are things that can help," says Sarvet.

Baystate Primary Care providers have therapists on staff to work collaboratively on treatment plans, so talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing signs of depression.

"Depression is a very treatable condition," said Sarvet.

And he says everyone should focus on their mental wellness.

"Know it's okay to take care of themselves and to do things that make them happy, to stay active to stay connected with friends and loved ones, and to get help early before things get bad," added Sarvet.

Sarvet also recommends staying active.

Physical exercise can help ward off depression.

If you or someone you know needs support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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