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Patterns of intimate partner homicide suicide in later life: Strategies for prevention

Authors Sonia Salari

Published 15 October 2007 Volume 2007:2(3) Pages 441—452


Sonia Salari

Department Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Abstract: Intimate partner homicide suicide (IPHS) constitutes the most violent domestic abuse outcome, devastating individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities. This research used content analysis to analyze 225 murder suicide events (444 deaths) among dyads with at least one member 60 or older. Data were collected from newspaper articles, television news transcripts, police reports and obituaries published between 1999 and 2005. Findings suggest the most dangerous setting was the home and the majority of perpetrators were men. Firearms were most often employed in the violence. Relationship strife was present in some cases, but only slightly higher than the divorce rate for that age group. Illness was cited in just over half of the cases, but 30% of sick elderly couples had only a perpetrator who was ill. Evidence of suicide pacts and mercy killings were very rare and practitioners are encouraged to properly investigate these events. Suicidal men in this age range must be recognized as a potential threat to others, primarily their partner. Homicide was sometimes the primary motive, and the perpetrators in those cases resembled the “intimate terrorist.” Victims in those cases were often terrorized before the murder. Clinicians are educated about the patterns of fatal violence in later life dyads and provided with strategies for prevention.

Keywords: murder-suicide, domestic violence, elder abuse, self abuse

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