Homicide–Suicide in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, 1991–2016

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Abstract

Research on homicides followed by suicides has relied heavily on small samples and relatively short time spans of data. This study helps to fill this gap by examining 26 years of homicide–suicide data from Cuyahoga County, Ohio, between 1991 and 2016. The main data source for the study is medical examiner files. Analyses of the data indicate the rate of homicide–suicide in Cuyahoga County is consistent with other studies but fluctuates considerably across years studied. The majority of victims are female while perpetrators are overwhelmingly male. Black people are overrepresented as victims and offenders. Use of drugs and/or alcohol leading up to the incident is common among perpetrators. Both the homicides and suicides were overwhelming committed with firearms. When comparing our results to the typology of murder–suicides developed by Marzuk, Tardiff, and Hirsch (JAMA 1992;267:3179), we find amorous jealousy is a significant motivating factor in a many cases, including those involving nonintimate partners. Our findings underscore the importance of widespread use of lethality assessment instruments.

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