Being a doctor has never been an easy profession in America, but now it is becoming a deadly one. Doctors are often sued or reprimanded by their respective boards for minor infractions that often have more to do with a doctor’s personality than his/her professional care. Doctors are required to carry millions of dollars in liability insurance for this very reason, because sometimes it is easier to pay the patient than it is to fight false allegations. Yet, in the homicide of Dr. Stephen Larson there appear to be many unanswered questions.
For instance, why would Ted Hoffstrom (a lawyer who has worked within the system at different points in his life) choose to kill Dr. Larson; instead of taking the legal recourse available for the way he felt about Larson’s care of his mother’s medical condition? Was Hoffstrom unstable or being treated for depression? Had he tried to speak to his mother’s doctor and been turned away? Why was he angry about her medical treatment? Did he feel more should have been or could have been done? And, of course, the question on many minds: Did Dr. Larson do all that he could for Hoffstrom’s mother? These questions will most likely not be answered as both the Larson and Hoffstrom families have refused to comment on Larson’s murder and Hoffstrom’s “suicide-by-cop”.
Clearly, Hoffstrom had an untreated obsession with both his mother’s doctor and her condition. One can speculate and infer the following: Hoffman loved his mother deeply. This love for her led to his becoming obsessed to the point of a fixation with her doctor. This developed over time into a dangerous delusion that told Hoffstrom the only way for his mother to get better was for her doctor to be removed from the situation permanently. Perhaps, Hoffstrom could have been helped had he reached out to his community in regard to his mother’s condition or if the community had reached out to them.
There has been a community response in the aftermath of this murder-suicide. According to The Star Tribune, Larson’s clinic saw, “patients bringing in flowers and baked goods and cards and really sharing their sympathy with us.” While this outpouring is good to see, where was the community outpouring for a sick woman and her troubled son? Did anyone reach out and bring them a meal, offer a listening ear, or even prayers for healing? Or were we as a society too busy to care? The Larson murder and Hoffstrom suicide bring to light many issues communities can no longer ignore: the plight of the sick and dying, the mental stability of our citizens, and our indifference to both our Creator God and one another.
Our self-centered indifference to the lives of others has led to more and more violent acts being committed against both the powerful and the powerless in our society. Could this tragedy have been avoided if someone would have just taken the time to reach out to Hoffstrom and his family during this time of physical, mental, and spiritual illness? In the wake of this tragedy, this question will remain unanswered however it certainly one worth asking