Brian Jones shot his wife Patricia Whitney-Jones once before turning the semi-automatic handgun on himself three times, including once in the head.

Several notes left by the couple cited the wife’s severe ongoing medical problems, as well as concerns that they could not afford to pay for health care.

an elderly couple who died in a murder-suicide said they could no longer afford health care

Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a home in Ferndale, Washington, on Wednesday morning after a 77-year-old man called 911 and told the dispatcher he would kill himself.

He said he had prepared a note for the sheriff which contained information and instructions. In spite of the operator’s efforts to keep him on the line, Mr. Jones is then said to have told the operator, “we will be in the front bedroom”, before disconnecting the call.

Police arrived 15 minutes later and tried to intervene with a crisis negotiator. But it was too late. Officials used a robot-mounted camera to look inside the home and found the bodies of Brian and Patricia lying together.

an elderly couple who died in a murder-suicide said they could no longer afford health care

Several notes were left in the home “citing severe ongoing medical problems with the wife and expressing concerns that the couple did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care”, according to the sheriff’s statement.

“It is very tragic that one of our senior citizens would find himself in such desperate circumstances where he felt murder and suicide were the only options. Help is always available with a call to 911,”

an elderly couple who died in a murder-suicide said they could no longer afford health care

Multiple firearms were found in the home. The couple’s two dogs were taken to an animal shelter.

Sherrie Schulteis, a neighbor of the couple, said she often spoke to Mr. Jones and they watched out for each other’s homes, but she was totally unaware about the extent to which he was struggling mentally and financially.

“[Mr. Jones and I] were always waving and talking about our yards or our flowers,” she told The Lynden Tribune. “It’s a little tiny community where we all know each other, but we don’t really know each other.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.