Suicides and suicide attempts following homicide: Victim-suspect relationship, weapon type, and presence of antidepressants

Catherine W. Barber, Deborah Azrael, David Hemenway, Lenora M. Olson, Carrie Nie, Judy Schaechter, Sabrina Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


This study used linked, official data for population-based surveillance of homicides, suicides, and homicide-suicides in four U.S. states and four counties. Among 1,503 homicide incidents, less than 5% (n = 74) were followed by the perpetrator's suicide and 1% (n = 18) by a nonfatal suicide attempt. However, among men who killed their female intimate partner with a firearm, 59% also took their own life. Homicide-suicide perpetrators did not test positive for an antidepressant more often than other male suicide decedents (15% vs. 19%). Most (54%) perpetrators of nonfirearm homicides who attempted suicide lived; nearly all (93%) firearm perpetrators who attempted suicide died. Among men who killed their female intimate partner with a firearm, homicide-suicide was the norm. Better enforcement of existing laws designed to protect abuse victims by removing firearms from domestic abusers may also prevent abusers' suicides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-297
Number of pages13
JournalHomicide Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Firearms
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Law

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