Most Murder-Suicide Victims are Women Shot and Killed by Their Male Intimate Partners

For Release: Monday, October 30, 2023

VPC Releases New Edition of Its National Analysis of Murder-Suicide During Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Washington, DC — The majority of murder-suicide victims are women shot and killed by their male intimate partner, according to the latest edition of American Roulette: Murder-Suicide in the United States. The study was released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This is the eighth edition of the study and analyzes news reports of murder-suicides for the six-month period January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021. American Roulette is one of the largest and most comprehensive analyses available on murder-suicide in the United States.

The study found that there were 258 murder-suicide events during this six-month period, for an average of 10 murder-suicides per week. These incidents resulted in 588 murder-suicide deaths, of which 258 were suicides and 330 were homicides. Doubling the total number of fatalities results in a yearly estimate of 1,176 murder-suicide deaths for 2021. Key findings include:

  • Most murder-suicide victims are female. Of the 330 homicides, 69 percent of victims were female (227 of 330), 27 percent were male (89 of 330), and four percent of victims were not identified by sex (14 of 330).
  • The killers in murder-suicides are almost always male. Of the 258 suicides, 91 percent were male (235 of 258), five percent were female (14 of 258), and three percent were not identified by sex (nine of 258).
  • Most murder-suicides involve an intimate partner. Sixty-two percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (160 of 258). Of these, 95 percent were females killed by their male intimate partners (152 of 160) and 93 percent involved a gun (148 of 160).
  • Murder-suicides almost always involve a gun. Of the 258 murder-suicides, 90 percent were known to involve a firearm (232 of 258).
  • Children are both the victims of, and witnesses to, murder-suicide. Fourteen percent (45 of 330) of the homicide victims were under the age of 18. Sixty-six of the survivors who witnessed some aspect of the murder-suicide were under the age of 18.
  • Most murder-suicides occur in the home. Seventy-eight percent (200 of 258) of the murder-suicides occurred in the home.

“Murder-suicide is an all-too-often ignored domestic violence issue, and guns are almost always involved,” states VPC Government Affairs Director Kristen Rand, “The role played by firearms must be taken into account in any prevention strategy.”

Five states had 10 or more murder-suicides during the six-month period of the study. In order, these states were: Florida (28); Texas (20); Georgia (13); California (12); and, Missouri (12). Eight states and the District of Columbia had no murder-suicides during the study period.

In its conclusion, the report states, “Findings from this study are consistent with prior editions: the killer in murder-suicides is almost always a man, the weapon is almost always a gun, and these events most frequently take place in the home. Women rarely perpetrate murder-suicides.”

Recommendations in the study include:

  • Passage of stronger domestic violence prevention legislation and the establishment of state domestic violence task forces.
  • Restricting access to firearms where there is an increased risk of a murder-suicide; for example, where an individual has a history of domestic violence and/or has threatened suicide.
  • Aggressive enforcement of laws that prohibit individuals with a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction or who are the subject of a protective order for domestic violence from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
  • Establishing a comprehensive, up-to-date, and accessible nationwide database to track murder-suicides.

To view the complete text of American Roulette, including examples of murder-suicides that have occurred across the country, visit:

For past editions of American Roulette, please visit:


The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on X/Twitter and Facebook.

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
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