More Than 1,300 Murder-Suicide Deaths Occurred in 2011, New Study Estimates

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Marty Langley, 202-822-8200 x109, mlangley@vpc.org

More Than 1,300 Murder-Suicide Deaths Occurred in 2011, New Study Estimates

Fourth Edition of Violence Policy Center Study “American Roulette” Estimates 12 Murder-Suicides Occur Each Week in U.S., Vast Majority With Guns

WASHINGTON - At least 691 Americans died in 313 murder-suicides during the first six months of 2011 with the vast majority (89.5 percent) involving a firearm, according to the fourth edition of the Violence Policy Center’s (VPC) study "American Roulette:  Murder-Suicide in the United States" (http://www.vpc.org/studies/amroul2012.pdf).  Using these figures, the VPC estimates that more than 1,300 Americans died in murder-suicides in 2011 and that 12 murder-suicides occur in the United States each week.    

For the study, the VPC used Internet news reports to collect every reported murder-suicide in the United States from January 1, 2011 to June 30, 2011.  Currently there is no national tracking system for these incidents.  As a result, the VPC analysis is most likely the largest study conducted on murder-suicide.

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “Murder-suicides destroy families and negatively impact entire communities.  While the factors contributing to murder-suicide are becoming better understood, much more needs to be done from a prevention standpoint, including recognition of the key role played by firearms.”

Additional information contained in the report includes the following.

o  Of the 313 murder-suicide incidents, 280 were known to involve a firearm (89.5 percent).

o  Of the 691 murder-suicide deaths, 313 were suicides and 378 were homicides.  Ninety percent of murder-suicides were committed by men.

o  Seventy-two percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, or ex-girlfriend/boyfriend).  Of these, 94 percent were females killed by their intimate partners.

o  Fifty-five of the homicide victims were children and teens under 18 years of age.  Sixty-six children and teens under age 18 were survivors who witnessed some aspect of the murder-suicide. 

o  Sixty-nine percent of murder-suicides involving a male murderer and three or more homicide victims were perpetrated by family annihilators.

o  Most murder-suicides occurred in the home (80 percent).

o  Eleven states had 10 or more murder-suicides in the six-month period of the study.  In order, these states were:  California (34); Florida (27); Texas (20); Louisiana (14); Pennsylvania (14); Illinois (12); Alabama (11); New York (11); Tennessee (11); Virginia (11); and, Arizona (10).

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The Violence Policy Center is a national tax-exempt educational organization working for a safer America through research, investigation, analysis, and advocacy. The VPC provides information to policymakers, journalists, organizations, advocates, and the general public.

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