Murder-suicide is "a dramatic, violent event" in which a person commits one murder or multiple murders, and then shortly after commits suicide. What makes these acts particularly disturbing is that they affect more than one person and often involve a family. Murder-suicides are almost always committed by a man with a firearm. Yet outside of high-profile mass shootings, the phenomenon of murder-suicide usually garners little public attention as a significant contributor to gun-related death and injury. This is despite the fact that, as one medical professional has observed, "because many murder suicides result in the death or injury of family members and sometimes mass murder, they cause countless additional morbidity, family trauma, and disruption of communities."
Currently, comprehensive, up-to-date information specific to murder-suicides in the United States is not readily available, making it challenging to assess the toll in death and injury. In order to more fully understand the human costs of murder-suicide, in 2002 the Violence Policy Center (VPC) began collecting and analyzing news reports of murder-suicides, resulting in a series of studies titled American Roulette: Murder-Suicide in the United States. This is the eighth edition of the study. For each analysis, the VPC tracked murder-suicide incidents over a six-month period using Internet news reports. For this most recent edition of the study, news reports of murder-suicides were collected for the period January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021. To be included in the study, both the murder and subsequent suicide had to occur within 72 hours of each other and within this six-month time period. Recognizing the lack of publicly available data, this study likely provides one of the most current and accurate portraits possible of murder suicide in the United States.
- Published by
- Violence Policy Center
- Issue areas
- Crime and Safety
- Document type
- North America / United States
- Copyright © October 2023 Violence Policy Center
- What to read next
- Considerations for Developing an Agenda for Gun Violence Prevention Research
- A Nation of Survivors: The Toll of Gun Violence in America
- Protecting the Parkland Generation: Strategies to Keep America’s Kids Safe from Gun Violence
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