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Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention Advance Access originally published online on May 16, 2008
Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention 2008 8(3):274-282; doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/mhn012
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© The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

The Dynamics of Murder-Suicide in Domestic Situations

   Katherine van Wormer, MSSW, PhD

From the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls

Contact author: Katherine van Wormer, Professor, Social Work Department, University of Northern Iowa, 30 Sabin Hall, Cedar Falls, IA 50614. E-mail: katherine.vanwormer{at}

This paper explores dynamics involved in the commission of homicide followed by suicide. British and U.S. government and advocacy sources are used in addition to news accounts to examine this phenomenon. Domestic violence-related crimes are contrasted with elderly "altruistic" murder-suicide, school shootings, and political terrorism. Suicide is argued to be a primary motive in many domestic homicide situations. Limitation of the availability of firearms is seen as an important means of prevention in conjunction with a harm reduction safety plan.

KEY WORDS: domestic homicide, murder-suicide, homicide-suicide, domestic violence, partner violence

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