A newspaper surveillance study of homicide-suicide in the United States

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2002 Jun;23(2):142-8. doi: 10.1097/00000433-200206000-00006.


The objective of this study was to identify the number and subtypes of homicide-suicides in the United States by age group and state over a 3-year period from 1997 through 1999. A total of 673 homicide-suicides, including 674 perpetrators and 779 victims, were identified from Internet searches of 191 national newspapers, and they were classified according to a modified Hanzlick-Koponen typology. One quarter of the homicide-suicides were perpetrated by persons 55 years or older, and 77% were spousal/consortial, higher than the 57% observed in the younger age group; 11% of the older homicide-suicides were familial, compared with 16% in the younger age group. Whereas only 3% of older homicide-suicides were infanticide/pedicide, 16% of the younger homicide-suicides involved parents killing their children. Forty-five states, including the District of Columbia, reported a homicide-suicide during the 3-year period, and they occurred most frequently in Florida (163), California (98), Texas (36), and New York (35). Newspaper surveillance is useful to identify where homicide-suicides are occurring most frequently, but they are underestimates of the true prevalence. However, the number of incidents detected is large enough that the cases detected may be a fairly representative sample.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Homicide / classification
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Newspapers as Topic
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide / classification
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology