If you have been watching the news, you know that a Fountain woman is in serious condition after being shot outside her home, and that her son was found dead along with his father. Events such as these certainly lead one to wonder how to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Research suggests that there may be two distinct types of situations involving murder-suicides in intimate partner relationships (Easteal, 1994). One type is seen more commonly in older couples, with the husband first killing his ailing wife, and then killing himself. A second type seems to be characterized by control and possessiveness on the part of the male in the relationship. As implied by both of these scenarios, the perpetrator is more often male than female.
Firearms are the most common weapons used for both suicides and homicides, and substance use can also be a contributing factor as in one study 47% of perpetrators of homicide had a substance abuse problem (Price, Mrdjenovich, & Drake, 2009). Given this information, there are some steps that might reduce the chances of such tragedies in the future.
Obviously, if someone is in a relationship where they believe that there is physical risk, and perhaps even risk of death, professional help and often legal authorities need to be involved to safely manage the situation. Additionally, removing oneself from situations where a partner is under the influence of a substance and escalating is wise. Further, the information regarding firearms would suggest that in situations where one sees a controlling/possessive relationship dynamic or a dynamic of an aging couple where the wife has a significant ailment; it would be wise to remove access to firearms from the situation. This might involve removing the firearms from the home and placing them in a secure situation, or disabling them. For example, in some situations, family members with ailing parents have opted to remove bolts from firearms to prevent possible tragedy. Such tragedies are rare, but it is wise to decrease the possibility when risk factors are present. While it is unclear if any of these measures would have prevented the recent tragedy in our area, such measures may nevertheless prevent some possible tragedies in the future.
Easteal, P. (1994). Homicide-Suicide between adult intimates: An Australian study. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. 24(2), 140-51.
Price, J.H., Mrdjenovich, A.J., & Drake, J.A. (2009). Prevalence of state firearm mortality and mental health care resources. Journal of Community Health, 34(5), 383-391.