Murder-Suicide Rates on the Rise as Economy Slumps

You may have noticed some stories lately about entire families being wiped out by the husband. Just today I saw a story in Alabama where the husband killed his wife, daughter, and two others. This story might have reminded you of some others recently, such as a music teacher in Florida (killed himself plus three), or the executive MBA in California (killed himself plus five). Based on nothing more than circumstance, I’d say that this economic downturn has caused a dramatic increase in murder-suicides among family members. But the scientist in me demands that I find someone else who observes the same link, so here’s the Christian Science Monitor to tell us:

On a broader level, however, such incidents may be happening more often because an increasing number of Americans feel desperate pressure from job losses and other economic hardship, criminologists say.
“Most of these mass killings are precipitated by some catastrophic loss, and when the economy goes south, there are simply more of these losses,” says Jack Levin, a noted criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston.
Direct correlation between economic cycles and homicides is difficult to prove, cautions Shawn Bushway, a criminologist at the University at Albany in New York. But an economic downturn of this breadth and depth hasn’t been seen since data began to be collected after World War II, he also points out. “This is not the average situation,” Mr. Bushway says.
Still, criminologists do say that certain kinds of violent crimes have risen during specific economic downturns. The recession in the early 1990s “saw a dramatic increase in workplace violence committed by vengeful ex-workers who decided to come back and get even with their boss and their co-workers through the barrel of an AK-47,” Mr. Levin says.
And in the midst of this downturn, one study released Monday in Florida finds a link between domestic violence and economic tragedies like job loss and foreclosures. The Sunshine State saw an almost 40 percent jump in demand for domestic-violence centers, an increase related to the state of the economy, the study says. George Sheldon, secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, calls the situation “the worst I’ve seen in years,” according to the Associated Press. Continue reading Murder-Suicide Rates on the Rise as Economy Slumps