Familial Vehicular Murder-Suicide

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A certain number of single-vehicle crashes into stationary roadside objects such as trees are thought to be occult suicides. However, is it possible that some cases of multiple deaths within a family in similar crashes are due to unrecognized familial murder-suicides? A 39-year-old woman and her 11-year-old daughter are reported who died of injuries following a vehicle impact with a tree. Unusual behavior of the mother leading up to the crash, and assessment at the scene, raised the possibility of this being a nonaccidental event. However, difficulties in retrospectively determining the intent of a driver in a vehicle crash, and the nonrecording of, or lack of separate coding for murder-suicides on registers, make determination of the incidence of these types of events extremely difficult. It may be that this is a subcategory of murder-suicide that is underdiagnosed and so is not being registered on central motor vehicle crash databases.

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