Homicide-suicide in police families: aggression full circle

Int J Emerg Ment Health. Spring 2007;9(2):97-104.

Abstract

Police officers are considered to be at increased risk for suicide, and such self-aggression may be extended to others. This paper describes antecedents of police family homicide-suicides in a sample of 29 cases. Police experiences with violence and aggression, domestic violence, and availability of lethal weaponry are possible correlates. Results from this sample suggested that police family homicide-suicides are increasing, as approximately twice as many cases were reported in 2006 as in the two previous years. The majority of homicide victims were women (N=24; 83%), however five of the victims were men killed by women police officers. The majority of incidents occurred in younger age groups (< 40 years of age). The primary weapon employed was the police service firearm (90%). Most incidents occurred on the local police departmental level (76%) as opposed to state and federal level departments. Similar to the majority of nationwide homicide-suicides, the homicide victim was primarily a spouse or female acquaintance. In three cases a child was also killed by the perpetrator While exposure to violence in police work cannot be changed, the establishment of a strict domestic violence policy by police agencies is discussed as one strategy to reduce the incidence of violence in the police family.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Domestic Violence / trends
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homicide / trends
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Police*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide / trends
  • United States / epidemiology