For Release: Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Washington, DC–More than 10 murder-suicides, almost all by gun, occur each week in the United States, according to American Roulette: Murder-Suicide in the United States, a new study by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The study used a national news clipping service and Internet survey tools to collect incidents nationwide from January 1, 2005, through June 30, 2005, and is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies ever conducted on murder-suicide. During this six-month period, at least 591 Americans died in 264 murder-suicides, and almost all murder-suicides (92 percent) involved a firearm. Using these figures, the VPC estimates that nearly 1,200 Americans die each year in murder-suicides. Additional study findings include–
- Six states had more than 10 murder-suicides in the six-month study period: Pennsylvania (18); Texas (18); California (17); Florida (15); North Carolina (14); and, Tennessee (11).
- Ninety-four percent of the offenders in murder-suicides were male.
- Seventy-four percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse, or boyfriend/girlfriend). Of these, 96 percent were females killed by their intimate partners.
- Most murder-suicides with three or more victims involved a “family annihilator” a subcategory of intimate partner murder-suicide. Family annihilators are murderers who kill not only their wives/girlfriends and children, but often other family members as well, before killing themselves.
- Forty-seven children and teens under the age of 18 were murdered in murder-suicides.
- Most murderers in murder-suicides are older than their victims.
- Seventy-five percent of murder-suicides occurred in the home.
VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “Murder-suicide wreaks havoc on hundreds of American families each year. Much more needs to be done to understand and prevent murder-suicide. One key aspect of prevention is reducing access to firearms, by far the weapon of choice in murder-suicide.”