Homicide-suicide - an event hard to prevent and separate from homicide or suicide

Forensic Sci Int. 2007 Mar 2;166(2-3):204-8. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2006.05.032. Epub 2006 Jun 27.


Suicide preceded by homicide is a rare but tragic event that often shocks the whole community. Annual rates show considerable variation, though not as great as the incidence of homicides. Within the industrialized nations, Finland's prevalence rates for homicide-suicide have been mid-range. The National Suicide Prevention Project recorded and carefully analysed all suicides committed in Finland during a 12-month period. In this material of almost 1400 suicides, 10 verified homicide-suicide cases were found. The perpetrator was male in all but one case, and all the victims were family, 9/10 being spouses and/or children. The most typical homicide-suicide seemed to be a man shooting a family member during a separation process. No perpetrator was found suffering from a psychotic disorder but three had major depression. The homicide-suicides were compared with the suicides and statistically significant differences emerged in two variables: shooting was more often the method used in the homicide-suicide cases, which, furthermore, were more likely to involve a divorce or recent rupture in another long-term intimate relationship. Sharing few common variables with either homicide or suicide, homicide-suicide appears to be a distinct phenomenon whose prevention would seem to be extremely difficult on the individual level. Since shooting is the most common method of homicide-suicide, firearm licenses should be more restricted.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality