A newspaper surveillance study of homicide-suicide in the United States

Julie E. Malphurs, Donna Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to identify the number and subtypes of homicide-suicides in the United States by age group and state over a 3-year period from 1997 through 1999. A total of 673 homicide-suicides, including 674 perpetrators and 779 victims, were identified from Internet searches of 191 national newspapers, and they were classified according to a modified Hanzlick-Koponen typology. One quarter of the homicide-suicides were perpetrated by persons 55 years or older, and 77% were spousal/consortial, higher than the 57% observed in the younger age group; 11% of the older homicide-suicides were familial, compared with 16% in the younger age group. Whereas only 3% of older homicide-suicides were infanticide/pedicide, 16% of the younger homicide-suicides involved parents killing their children. Forty-five states, including the District of Columbia, reported a homicide-suicide during the 3-year period, and they occurred most frequently in Florida (163), California (98), Texas (36), and New York (35). Newspaper surveillance is useful to identify where homicide-suicides are occurring most frequently, but they are underestimates of the true prevalence. However, the number of incidents detected is large enough that the cases detected may be a fairly representative sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-148
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Homicide-suicide
  • Internet
  • Murder-suicide
  • Newspaper surveillance
  • Typology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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