Earlier this week, the Violence Policy Center released a new report titled, “American Roulette: Murder-Suicide in the United States.”
This report examines the tragedy of murder-suicide — in which a person kills one victim or multiple victims, and then kills themselves shortly thereafter. This report details that an estimated 11 murder-suicides occur each week in the U.S., and that most are committed by men with a gun who kill their female intimate partner, further demonstrating that gun violence has a devastating effect on women in the U.S.
Other key findings include:
- In the six-month time period of the study, there were 296 murder-suicide events, resulting in 663 murder-suicide deaths.
- Access to a gun caused the violence in the vast majority of these murder-suicides. A firearm was used in 91 percent of the cases.
- The majority of murder-suicides involved intimate partners and 96 percent of victims were female. Nearly all of these women were killed with guns.
- The presence of a gun also related to an increased number of homicides in these incidents. Of the 53 murder-suicides with more than one homicide victim, 47 involved at least one firearm.
The report contends that “the most common catalytic component in murder-suicide is the use of a firearm.” The report goes on to state that “Every major murder-suicide study ever conducted has shown that a firearm — with its unmatched combination of high lethality and easy availability — is the weapon most often used to murder the victims, with the offenders then turning the gun on themselves. In this study, access to a gun was the critical component for almost all of the murder-suicides.”
Fortunately, there is legislation that can help prevent these tragedies. Red Flag Laws can save lives by creating a way for family members and law enforcement to act before warning signs escalate into tragedies. When a person is in crisis, loved ones and law enforcement are often the first to see signs that they pose a risk. Red Flag Laws allow them to seek a court order to temporarily block someone from having guns if they are a risk to themselves or others.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, text LINE to 741741 for support from a trained crisis counselor. Or, visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you’d like to learn more about life-saving legislation like Red Flag Laws, please don’t hesitate to reach out.