Murder-Suicide in Fulton County, Georgia, 1988–1991: Comparison with a Recent Report and Proposed Typology


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Abstract

Our study of the characteristics of murder-suicide in Fulton County, Georgia is compared with published data, and the usefulness of a proposed typology for classifying murder-suicides is evaluated. Twelve murder-suicides involving 26 decedents occurred in Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia, during 1988–1991. Similar to national statistics, most offenders were male (100%), there was usually one victim (83%) who was most often female (71%), a spousal or love relationship often existed between the victim and offender (64%), and a firearm was the lethal weapon in almost all incidents (92%). Important differences from published data included a higher incidence of murder-suicide (0.46/100,000), which accounted for a lower proportion of all homicides (1.4%) and a higher proportion of all suicides (3.6%) than is reported nationally, and a lower proportion of white offenders (17%) and higher proportion of male victims (29%). A total of 83% of incidents were intraracial. Murder-suicide in Fulton County was different from national data in ways that might be due to local demographics, the local homicide rate, and the local suicide rate. The proposed typology for classification of murder-suicides is in need of more precise definitions of terminology; further, it does not permit inclusion of some major details that might be useful for study. An alternative classification scheme is offered that enables documentation of more comprehensive information.

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