For Release: Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Role of Guns, Other Patterns of Murder-Suicide, Identified in VPC Study American Roulette, the Largest Study of Murder-Suicide in the U.S. Ever Conducted
Washington, DC–The murder of six former co-workers and subsequent suicide by a Goleta, California, ex-postal worker fits the tragic pattern–the use of a firearm–that defines almost all of the more than 1,300 estimated deaths that result each year from murder-suicide, according to the Violence Policy Center (VPC). In 2002, the VPC published the largest study of murder-suicides ever conducted, American Roulette: The Untold Story of Murder-Suicide in the United States. The study was based on data collected in the first six months of 2001. It found that California–with 29 murder-suicide incidents in the first half of 2001–was second only to Florida, and tied with Texas, in the number of murder-suicides incidents. The study is currently being updated by the VPC using 2005 incidents for release later this year.
Findings of the 2002 study included:
- Unlike the Goleta, California, murder-suicide, where a woman was the shooter, the VPC study found that men were the murderers in 90.4 percent of incidents.
- The VPC study found that 94.5 percent of murder-suicide incidents studied involved a firearm, most often a handgun.
- The VPC study estimates that there are more than 1,300 murder-suicide deaths per year.
- Unlike the Goleta, California, shooting, 76 percent of murder-suicides analyzed in the VPC study occurred in the home.
VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “Most people think of suicide as a solitary act. In fact, many people with suicidal thoughts are also intent on taking other people with them, and guns make it far too easy to commit mass murder-suicide. America needs to fully understand the risk of murder-suicide and the pivotal role that firearms play.”
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.