Psychedelic medicine community processes murder-suicide by well-known doctor
May 16, 2023, 6:55 PM | Updated: May 17, 2023, 5:41 am
SALT LAKE CITY — A tight-knit medical community in Utah is sharing their thoughts and talking about how to move forward after a well-known doctor in their field killed his son, then himself at his clinic.
In a place to promote healing, Dr. Emily Bullock offers the space for people to process at her psychotherapy clinic in Woods Cross, Utah.
“All different kinds of traumatic events that people have gone through, sometimes from long ago, sometimes current, sometimes accidents, sometimes sexual trauma, military trauma, things like that,” Bullock explained.
The kinds of therapy found in her clinic include EMDR, assisted psychotherapy, clinical yoga and ketamine.
“Ketamine is used as a tool to help people in their therapy to be able to accomplish whatever their goal is that they’re working on in their treatment,” she said.
She’s seen clients who utilize ketamine as medicine and has found it brings “a lot of hope and promise” to their lives.
“These psychedelic medicines and ketamine specifically — which is the one that’s FDA approved right now — have been incredibly beneficial and impactful for people in their lives when they’re used as a tool to aid them in their recovery or their mental health journeys,” Bullock said.
Something else has been impacting her this week, as those in the psychedelic medicine community talk, discuss and express emotions following what took place at a different clinic over the weekend.
“When you hear about a tragedy like this, it’s very confusing. It’s very distressing,” Bullock said.
Police said Dr. Parth Gandhi died by suicide after shooting and killing his 16-year-old son inside Salt Lake City Psychedelic Therapy and Research Saturday. It’s unknown if any substances were used prior.
Police: Father kills son in murder-suicide in SLC office building
Gandhi was known in the healing world for his work with psychedelics, specifically as they relate to autism, concussions, addiction and depression.
“It’s terribly upsetting for everyone in the psychology community in the medical community, in the psychedelic medicine field,” Bullock expressed.
Dr. Scott Allen, a physician and anesthesiologist who runs a psychedelic medicine clinic, knew Gandhi.
“Dr. Gandhi was a fairly influential educator within the psychedelic movement within Utah and sort of nationally to here,” he said. “He led a fairly large training course that a lot of people attended.”
He indicated how the people who are used to helping others are now working themselves to process this terrible event.
“We’re trying to figure out a way going forward in which we can help support each other,” he said.
Allen said they would host their next professional journal club in a couple of weeks and have been discussing ways to support each other’s thoughts, feelings and emotions as they work to take care of other physicians.
“We’ve been discussing ways that we can offer services to people and have a venue for people to kind of talk about what they’re feeling personally,” he said.
He said this one tragic act does not represent the psychedelic medicine community as a whole.
“Psychedelics, in general, tend to promote a lot of feelings of love, of connectedness, oneness with the universe. That’s usually what people experience is, is more love and more compassion for other people, more empathy. That’s usually what we see,” Allen said. “And so, for somebody involved with the psychedelic community, I think it kind of compounds the shock of it because most of us who have engaged with it, we’re like, ‘Wow, these substances make us so loving towards others.'”
Dr. Bullock, who specializes in working with complex trauma and led the Traumatic Stress Response Team in the U.S. Air Force, explained that in horrible traumas like this, it’s normal to experience a range of different emotions, and she talked about how crucial it is to reach out, get support and speak with others.
“It’s so, so important to be able to get take care of yourself and your basic needs following a tragedy,” she said. “But then also, getting the right kind of help and support immediately and thereafter.”
For anyone wanting to reach out for services, Bullock said the Utah Psychological Association is always available and is currently on standby to be able to refer people affected by last weekend’s events to the appropriate agency.
She said anyone in a dangerous or emergency situation should call 911, and there’s also the 988 mental health emergency line. That line will link people to a crisis response center, and they can deploy a team of mental health experts to intervene. The 24/7, free, confidential domestic violence hotline is also at 1-800-897-LINK.
The Utah Psychological Association released the statement below in response to the situation. It explains their sorrow for Gandhi’s daughters, his son’s mother and others close to them, and how they’re ready to help his clients.
Suicide prevention resources
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call, text, or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 which is answered 24/7/365 by crisis counselors at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. All calls to legacy crisis hotlines, including the old National Suicide Prevention hotline, 1-800-273-8255, will also connect to a crisis care worker at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute as well.
- SafeUT: Parents, students, and educators can connect with a licensed crisis counselor through chat by downloading the SafeUT app or by calling 833-3SAFEUT (833-372-3388)
- SafeUT Frontline: First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, and healthcare professionals can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUT Frontline app.
- SafeUTNG: Members of the National Guard can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUTNG app.
- Utah Warm Line: For non-crisis situations, when you need a listening ear as you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call 1-833 SPEAKUT 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- The Huntsman Mental Health Institute offers a wide variety of programs and services including suicide prevention and crisis services, hospital treatment, therapy & medication management, substance Use & addiction recovery, child & teen programs, and maternal mental health services including birth trauma, pregnancy loss, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
- LiveOnUtah.org is a statewide effort to prevent suicide by promoting education, providing resources, and changing Utah’s culture around suicide and mental health. They offer resources for faith based groups, LGBTQ+, youth, employers, firearm suicide prevention, and crisis and treatment options.
Other community-based resources
- NAMI Utah provides education, support and advocacy for individuals and families impacted by mental illness.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers prevention programs, public education, support for loss survivors, and fundraising for research.
- Encircle Utah: LGBTQ+ family and youth resource center.
- Utah Pride Center empowers Utah’s diverse LGBTQ+ community.
- The Trevor Project: LGBTQ teen resource center.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health
- Latino Behavioral Health Services
- Center for Workplace Mental Health offers suicide prevention and response for employers.