Allow me to state right off that this write up is Americentric in nature and doesn’t take into account such things as suicide bombings or other acts of terrorism. Readers or members of this site from another country are free to message me or add a write up of their own regarding murder-suicides in their area.
Now that that’s out of the way, maybe this article would be more aptly titled “When killing yourself just ain’t enough, an American phenomenon.”
Nowadays it seems you can hardly read a newspaper or watch the news without hearing about some kind of tragedy where a person decides to kill themselves but prior to doing that has killed someone else. It usually starts with some kind of blaring headline or banner scrolling at the bottom of the screen that reads:
”X” Kills “Y” Then Self, Possible Murder Suicide?”
When it comes to television and depending on the tabloid nature of where you get your news you might also hear the ever popular teaser “Film at 11:00”
While no official government statistics are kept regarding the frequency of murder-suicides medical estimates are that here in the States they have been averaging somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 deaths per year and are on the rise. That accounts for roughly 5% of all murders committed during that time frame. For those of you who are into numbers, here are just a few facts that have been put together by various law enforcement agencies that have been gleaned over the years regarding the phenomenon.
A whopping 90% of all suicide-murders are perpetrated by men.
Somewhere between 80 and 90% of murder-suicide victims are going to be the perpetrator's spouse, child or children, parents and/or some type of intimate partner.
A firearm of some sort is used in 90% of all murder-suicides.
If you’re an adult over the age of 55 you’re two times more likely to commit a murder-suicide as someone younger than you.
In approximately 25% of all cases there is more than one victim.
Men are more likely to kill both their children and their partner before taking their own life.
On the other hand, in instances where women are the perpetrators, they tend to kill only their children.
Whether it’s a man or a women doing the killing, approximately 75% of the time it will occur in the home.
Out of that, most of them are likely to be committed in the bedroom.
In the overwhelming majority of cases the perpetrator will either be suffering from some form of depression, experiencing some kind of marital or significant other troubles or be going through a financial crisis. In those cases, the perpetrator will also be suffering from some form of alcohol, illegal drug or other form of controlled substance abuse before committing their crime.
Only the good die young
Apologies in advance to Billy Joel.
In younger adults most suicide-murder cases involve some sort of “trigger” to set the event in motion. In dominant males this usually means some form of jealousy for a perceived indiscretion, separation or divorce followed by rage at their inability to control the situation. Nobody knows for sure but the school of thought for this type of person is that they experience no sense of guilt and feel that their actions are justified.
For younger men with more dependent personalities the “trigger” they might choose to take their spouse's life is because of the feeling that they “just can’t live without them” and that since their life is no longer worth living, neither is their victim's. Rather than experience rage, these perpetrators often feel helpless or powerless and just can’t face the sense of abandonment if they were to find themselves on their own. Men with these tendencies will often feel some sense of remorse for killing their victim(s) before taking their own life and be described as “the quiet type” by their friends and neighbors.
In either case, since these actions are usually done on the spur of the moment, seldom is a suicide note is left behind and people are left to speculate as to the cause of the actions.
”Old man take a look at my life”
Likewise, apologies in advance to Neil Young.
As I mentioned earlier, men aged 55 and over are twice as likely to commit a murder-suicide than their younger counterparts. The reasons for their actions are usually significantly different and often attributed to such things that are either health related (either the suicide or murder victim) or other life changing events such a move to a nursing home or assisted living facility. After years and years of living in the same place and following the same routine they can’t face the prospect of change and rather than let their spouse go on with their lives decide to take them with him. This usually occurs when their victim is asleep and in the eyes of the person committing suicide is sometimes viewed as some sort of mercy killing.
As opposed to their younger counterparts they are also more inclined to leave some sort of suicide note behind that attempts to explain the reasoning for their actions.
Strangely, I couldn’t find any statistics on the frequency of murder-suicides that are broken down in terms of race. If what I see or read on the news is true, most of the time these acts are committed by middle class white men/women who just can’t seem to find some type of coping mechanism in dealing with the curve balls thrown at us in this game we call life.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what color you are, what your sex or sexual orientation is, how healthy you are or what your financial status is, you’re depriving someone else of their life and that’s just a goddamn crying shame.
Before taking your own life, if you find yourself thinking about killing someone else, whether it be your spouse, child(ren), significant other, parent(s), friend(s), co-worker(s) or total stranger(s), do us (and yourself) all a favor and get some professional help.
Please, leave the rest of us out if it.
User drownzsurf inquired "What are the stats in Switzerland which promotes every men owning rifles?"
Here's what I found out.
The percentages involving males, age range and use of firearms were (to me) remarkably consistent to those here in America. You can see the entire article here.