Man charged with helping friend's suicide

ST. LOUIS, June 16 (UPI) -- A St. Louis-area man has been charged with helping a depressed friend take his own life in what he says was originally planned as a double suicide.

Investigators say that Jacob Runge, 22, and Alex Ryan Harkins, 21, bought a handgun and ammunition May 29 and then took the weapon to the St. Stanislaus Conservation Area on the Missouri River near Hazelwood, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Runge allegedly fired the pistol to test it and then gave it to Harkins, who shot himself in the head, police said.


If the two friends had a suicide pact, Runge changed his mind, leaving Harkins' body but taking the gun with him. Four days later, after Harkins' parents went to him to find out where there son was, he led police to the body.

Runge, who lives in St. Peters, was being held in the St. Louis County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail on a charge of voluntary manslaughter. Bail was set Monday.

Daniel and Patricia Harkins say their son had been fighting depression for years and sometimes talked about suicide. But they also wonder why someone who had never handled a gun would choose that means to take his own life.


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