[Infanticide committed by the mother]

Can J Psychiatry. 1995 Apr;40(3):142-9.
[Article in French]


Using data gathered at the Institut Philippe Pinel in Montréal, we shall describe the sociodemographic and psychiatric profile of a sample of 17 women who have killed (n = 14) or attempted to kill (n = 3) one of their children. Our data indicate that women who have committed this type of offence generally come from a disadvantaged socioeconomic environment. Most have a psychiatric history (evaluation and/or hospitalization). Review of the offence demonstrates that most women do not use a weapon to kill their child; the preferred methods are strangulation or drowning. Most of these offences may be classified as extended suicide or altruistic acts. Several of the women present with a severe personality disorder and an additional depressive episode in the context of the offence. We hope our study will help clarify understanding of filicide and assist in the development of certain prevention axes. These results indicate that the population at large and various intervenors in our society (family physicians, psychiatrists, criminologists, social workers, pediatricians, psychologists, gynecologists) must become increasingly vigilant and avoid trivialization of signals such as verbalization of homicidal thoughts about the child or recourse to certain disorganized behaviours.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Altruism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infanticide / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Infanticide / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Motivation
  • Psychosocial Deprivation
  • Suicide / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Suicide / psychology