MANDEVILLE, La. — Autopsy reports released by the St. Tammany Parish Coroner revealed Brittany Buras, 23, died of a gunshot wound with homicide listed as the manner of death. Her mother, 43-year-old Tara Book died by suicide with a gunshot wound, the coroner's office said.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office responded to the apparent murder-suicide Tuesday morning after Book called 911 and said she shot her daughter and would shoot herself. The dispatcher then heard a gunshot, STPSO said.
The news was hard to believe for friends of the mother and daughter, who expressed that they appeared to have a close and healthy relationship.
Less than a month ago, Buras posted photos at a concert with her mother on Facebook including the caption, "Best concert I've ever been to thanks so much mom!"
It's leading to many questions that St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston said he can't answer at this point, but he can discuss mental health and suicide.
"St. Tammany has always had a concerningly high suicide rate. When you look at the demographics of folks who generally commit suicide, they match up with the demographics in St. Tammany Parish," Dr. Preston said.
In addition to investigating deaths, the coroner has a mental health division which Dr. Preston said is their busiest.
"I don't care if you don't have a single dime to your name, you can get quality mental health care," Dr. Preston said.
According to the coroner's office, there have been 27 suicides in St. Tammany so far this year. They reported 46 suicides in 2021, 48 in 2020, 48 in 2019, and 52 in 2018.
"It's too many. It's way too many," Dr. Preston said.
Three months ago, 9-8-8, the new suicide prevention hotline launched nationwide which will connect you with a trained mental health professional to help through a crisis. You can call anytime.
"You do not have to be with a gun in your lap to call 988. In fact, I would encourage that the first time the gun in your lap passes through your mind, pick up the phone. Don't pick up that gun. Call 988," Dr. Preston said.
He advises that if you see a sudden change in a loved one’s personality, trust your gut.
"Sometimes that can be an elevation of mood because someone who is contemplating suicide is in uncontrolled pain so they look at it as the pain is going to stop," Dr. Preston said. "They start giving things away. A disruption of sleep pattern is a red flag that should be very concerning and of course, any verbalization. If someone said, 'I don't think I can go on like this,' then you need to directly ask that person, 'are you thinking of killing yourself?' and we encourage you to be that direct."
STPSO is still investigating the incident.