World-first homicide-suicide study

A world-first study into homicide-suicide may help reduce the occurrence of such incidents, a conference in Brisbane has been told.

Using data from the Australian Homicide Project and the Australian Suicide Register, the study compared homicide-suicide cases with suicide-only and homicide-only cases.

“While there have been many studies on homicide only or suicide only, not much is known about homicide-suicide,’’ said Dr Samara McPhedran, from the Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention, who presented the findings at the Homicide — Precursors and Prevention conference today hosted by Griffith’s Violence Research and Prevention Program.

She said while representing one of the rarest forms of lethal violence, in Australia and internationally, homicide-suicide events can be sensationalised and attract disproportionately high levels of media attention.

“In instances where children are involved, for example, it’s extremely common to see a heavy focus on the family justice system and calls for changes to be made in that system.

“Despite the levels of public interest in such cases, and the implications for policy development, there is very little international empirical study of homicide-suicides.”

The study included 60 adult males in the homicide-suicide group, 251 males in the homicide-only group and 8014 in the suicide-only group.

It found homicide-suicide perpetrators were more likely than homicide-only perpetrators to have had contact with a mental health professional in the lead-up to the incident.

“Some of the characteristics that may differentiate our homicide-suicide group from the other two groups (homicide only, suicide only), such as having a DVO in place at the time

of the incident, suggest there are possibilities for intervention through the policing and justice system,’’ Dr McPhedran said.

“Gatekeeper training of GPs is increasingly recognised as useful in suicide prevention but these results raise the possibility of incorporating training about the possibility of violence towards others, as well as to the self.”

WHAT: Homicide — Precursors and Prevention

WHEN: March 24 & 25

WHERE:The Royal on the Park Hotel, Brisbane

MEDIA:Deborah Marshall, 0413 156 601