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Homicide-suicide offences: description, classification and short case studies

Joakim Sturup (National Board of Forensic Medicine, Karolinska Institutet & Stockholm University, Sweden.)
Shilan Caman (National Board of Forensic Medicine & Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.)

Journal of Criminal Psychology

ISSN: 2009-3829

Article publication date: 3 August 2015




Although homicide-suicide (H-S) offences are rare, they have remarkably tragic consequences. The purposes of this paper are to: examine the background characteristics of H-S offenders (including previous offending history and psychiatric elements); describe the crime-scene behavior and examine the motivational aspects of the offences; and to establish the reliability in the outlined typologies.


The study consists of case series of all H-S offenders in Sweden, January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2009 (n=13), and data was collected from medico-legal autopsy reports, police investigations and three national databases.


Of all Swedish homicides, 5.5 percent consisted of H-S cases, and the rate of H-S was 0.05 per 100,000 inhabitants. Seven of the offenders had had previous contact with a psychiatric service, however, the average time between the last contact and the offence was slightly more than four years. Three of the offenders had previously been convicted of a violent crime and nine of the 13 offenders were involved in serious marital conflicts during the time of the offence. In conclusion, the study supports the notion that cases of H-S are mainly associated with intimate partner homicides, rather than suicide or other homicides. However, the offences were not always directly aimed toward the (former) spouse, but instead carried out through a proxy (such as a common child).


The study adds in-depth knowledge by using a qualitative approach in an otherwise scarce area of research.



Sturup, J. and Caman, S. (2015), "Homicide-suicide offences: description, classification and short case studies", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 177-187.



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