Dad may have given reasons for possible murder-suicide

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH, Ohio, USA
WBNS-10TV Video

Friday,  January 30, 2009 3:17 AM

Note found with 4 dead in Whitehall

Dad may have given reasons for possible murder-suicide

By Elizabeth Gibson

Police found a suicide note that appeared to be written by the father of the Whitehall family of four that officers found shot to death Wednesday afternoon, Whitehall Sgt. Daniel Kelso said yesterday….(Full Story)

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F4L:  The article states:

About two-thirds of men who kill their children and themselves take their spouses’ lives as well, whereas women who kill their children seldom murder their husbands before committing suicide, according to the study.

Those are useless, and worse, misleading statistics. “Seldom” is a fuzzy dimension, while “about two-thirds” is not.  However, far more important statistics are not mentioned:

  1. Men in the USA commit suidice more than four times as often as women do (USA Suicide Deaths 1979 – 1996)
  2. “…a divorced father is ten times more likely to commit suicide than a divorced mother, and three times more likely to commit suicide than a married father.” (Distraught Father’s Courthouse Suicide Highlights America’s Male Suicide Epidemic, by Glenn Sacks; San Diego Union-Tribune (1/11/2002)
  3. There are about 25,000 male and 5,200 female suicide deaths in the USA each year (USA Suicide Deaths 1979 – 1996)
  4. In 1995, there were about 1,300 homicides of children aged less than one year to 14 years in the USA (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control)
  5. Mothers commit 70 percent of fatal injuries to children (Child Maltreatment 1999, Fig. 4-3 http://www.calib.com/nccanch/chma99.pdf)
  6. “Children residing in households with adults unrelated to them were 8 times more likely to die of maltreatment than children in households with 2 biological
    parents…. Risk of maltreatment death also was elevated for children residing with step, foster, or adoptive parents…, and in households with other adult relatives present…. Risk of maltreatment death was not increased for children living with only 1 biological parent” (Household Composition and Risk of Fatal Child Maltreatment, by Michael N. Stiffman, MD, MSPH, Bernard Ewigman, MD, MSPH, Patricia Adam, MD, MSPH, Robin Kruse, PhD, and Darla Horman MS; 2002 Full Article)

Going by all of that, it follows that:

  1. Only an extremely small fraction of men or women who commit suicide will also kill other family members, such as their children.
  2. The majority of children killed in families are being killed by their mothers.
  3. Of the children in families who are being killed by someone other than their mothers, very few are being killed by their natural fathers. Far fewer of those children are being killed by a natural father who also committed suicide.
  4. Women who kill their husbands or boyfriends seldom kill also their children.  The same is also true of men who kill their wives or girlfriends, while such men – if they also kill their natural children – are often given to kill themselves.
  5. The article in the Columbus Dispatch was out to demonize natural fathers of children.

The latest and exact numbers for all of the statistics used in those conclusions will be somewhat but not essentially different.  I do not have enough time to find and present them.  Perhaps someone will be so good as to do the work necessary for that.  If you do, please post a comment here.

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