Riverside Mass Shooting
Fits Tragic Pattern Identified by Violence Policy Center in Largest Study
of Murder-Suicide Ever Conducted
murder of five family members and subsequent suicide by a Riverside County,
California, investigator for the District Attorney's office fits the tragic
pattern of most of the estimated 1,000 to 1,500 deaths that result each
year from murder-suicide, according to the Violence Policy Center (VPC).
In 2002, the VPC published the largest study of murder-suicides ever conducted,
American Roulette: The Untold Story
of Murder-Suicide in the United States. The study was based on
data collected in the first six months of 2001 and found that California
was second only to Florida in the number of murder-suicides, with 29 murder-suicides
in the first half of 2001.
The Riverside shooting
is entirely consistent with the patterns identified in the VPC study:
- The Riverside
incident was committed with a handgun. The VPC study found that 94.5
percent of murder-suicide incidents studied involved a firearm, most
often a handgun.
- Men were the murderers
in 90.4 percent of incidents in the VPC study.
- Like 73.7 percent
of the murder-suicide incidents evaluated for the VPC study, the Riverside
case involved the killing of an intimate partner. Children were often
- As was the case
in 76 percent of cases looked at in the VPC study, the Riverside incident
occurred in the home.
- The VPC study also
notes that law enforcement officials may have high rates of murder-suicide.
Studies that compare suicide rates show that law enforcement suicide
rates exceed rates for both the general population and age/gender matched
groups. The VPC study also identified several incidents where the officer's
service weapon was used, as was the case in the Riverside shooting.
VPC Legislative Director
Kristen Rand states, "Most people think of suicide as a solitary act.
They fail to understand that many people with suicidal thoughts are also
intent on taking people--most often family members--with them, and that
guns make it far too easy to commit mass murder-suicide. America needs
to fully understand the risk of murder-suicide and the pivotal role that
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x109