Increase in Columbus homicides taking mental toll on funeral homes

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The number of homicides in Columbus is alarming many friends, neighbors, and parents.

As of Wednesday, Columbus has a total of 139 homicides, which has been keeping employees at funeral homes busier than ever.

While funeral homes work to make saying goodbye a little easier on the families affected, it’s getting a lot harder for them.

Curtis Parish and Darlene Matthews work in two funeral homes in Columbus — Diehl-Whittaker Funeral Service and Marlan J. Gary Funeral Home, The Chapel of Peace.

“It’s been scary,” said Curtis Parish, primary embalmer.

He said between COVID-19 and gun violence, he’s been working more hours than usual, causing both a mental and physical toll on him.

When he sees the bodies of young homicide victims, all he can think about is his 15-year-old son.

“I honestly saw one body recently that had 18 bullet holes in it,” he said.

He’s now working on bodies for up to 24 hours, if not longer, depending on the injuries.

For cosmetologist Darlene Matthews, it’s also been taking her more time to get through her day.

As someone who grew up in Linden, she has seen the violence peak–and is seeing the young people being affected.

“This is serious,” she said. “We are losing our next generation.”

It’s why she wants everyone to see the transparency in the work they do, and hopefully this will get others talking and involved in teens lives.

“Everybody needs to be mentoring a child,” she said.

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