A recently published study listed Florida as the third-highest state for murder-suicide deaths and cases in the country last year, behind Texas and California.
According to the recent study called “The American Roulette,” by the nonprofit Violence Policy Center, 663 people died in the country during the first six months of 2017 — about 11 cases per week — in incidents classified as murder-suicides. The center reported that 367 people were killed and 296 committed suicide.
Eight states had 10 or more murder-suicides in the six-month period of the study. In order, these states were: Texas (37); California (29); Florida (25); Pennsylvania (18); Illinois (11); Kentucky (11); Ohio (11); and Tennessee (11).
In the first half of 2017, in Florida, there were 25 incidents that left 61 people dead. Jeremy Pettit, an expert in depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior at Florida International University, told the Miami Herald that murder-suicides are primarily a societal and public health problem, not a policing or criminal one.
“Until we make mental health and suicide prevention a priority on local, state, and national levels, suicide rates and murder-suicides will likely continue to increase as they have over the last 15 years,” Pettit told the Miami Herald.
The findings in American Roulette include:
- Of the 296 murder-suicides in the first half of 2017, 270 (91 percent) were known to involve a firearm.
- Sixty-five percent of the murder-suicides involved an intimate partner. Of these, 96 percent were females killed by their intimate partners.
- Among the incidents where females were killed by intimate partners, 94 percent involved a gun.
- Most of the killers in murder-suicides were men. Of the 296 suicides, 263 (89 percent) were male, 19 (6 percent) were female, and 14 were not unidentified by gender.
- Most of the murder-suicide victims were women. Of the 367 homicide victims, 253 (69 percent) were female, 99 (27 percent) were male, and 15 were not identified by gender.
- Forty-two of the homicide victims were children and teens less than 18 years of age.
Eighty-two percent of the murder-suicides occurred in the home.
Of the murder-suicides involving a male murderer and three or more victims, 55 percent were perpetrated by family annihilators — murderers who kill their intimate partners and their children before killing themselves.
The study’s recommendations include:
- Stronger domestic violence prevention legislation and the establishment of state domestic violence task forces.
- Restricting access to firearms where there is an increased risk of a murder-suicide; for example, where an individual has a history of domestic violence and/or has threatened suicide.
- Aggressive enforcement of laws that prohibit individuals with a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction or who are the subject of a restraining order for domestic violence from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
- Establishing a comprehensive, nationwide database to track murder-suicides.
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