A small Walloon town on Wednesday awoke in shock after a local woman killed two of her three children and attempted to take her own life.
The mayor of Hantes-Wihéries, in the province of Hainaut, confirmed the double infanticide, saying it was a “terrible tragedy” for the town of some 700 inhabitants.
“We have been hit by a tragedy: the death of two children, with a third in a serious condition, and then also a mother who is between life and death,” Mayor David Lavaux said.
“It was the father who discovered the scene,” he added.
Local authorities said that a local school teacher, identified as Julie L., drowned her 2-year-old boy and stabbed her 5 and 9-year olds on the neck on Tuesday night.
Charleroi public prosecutors said on Wednesday that the 5-year-old had died and that the 9-year-old was in an artificial coma in the hospital.
Officials also said that the woman had stabilised after being admitted into surgery in a critical state, following a suspected attempt to take her own life by overdosing on pills and reportedly slitting her wrists, according to Le Soir.
The town mayor said that authorities would provide psychological support to the children’s father, who discovered the scene.
According to the mayor, the coronavirus lockdown had weighed heavy on the woman, who he also said lived through a pregnancy termination.
“She did not go out anymore and the children did not go back to school [after the lockdown,” Lavaux said. “But there were no signs that something like this could happen. She was so close to her children, especially the youngest one.”
Fabrice Pierart, chief of the emergency services in Hainaut, said that first respondents to the incident would receive psychological support as well.
“They are shocked by what they saw, by the emergency care that they had to provide,” Pierart said.
Autopsies will be carried out on the bodies of the two deceased children on Wednesday evening and officials reported that the woman had stabilised after surgery and would be auditioned by authorities in the course of the day.
The Brussels Times
Anyone having thoughts about suicide can get help by contacting the Suicide Line on the number 1813 or by going to www.zelfmoord1813.be, or the Suicide Prevention Center at 0800 32 123 or at www.preventionsuicide.be