Date of Award

Spring 4-19-2004

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

MS in Physician Assistant Studies (PA)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Beth Alexander

Second Advisor

Dawn B. Ludwig


Background: Murder-suicide is an uncommon but devastating act for everyone associated with the event. World-wide, murder-suicide occurs at a constant rate, between 0.2-0.3 per 100,000 people. One explanation for this constancy of murder-suicide incidence is a consistent underlying level of mental illness in all populations. Methods: Death certificates, The Femicide Report, newspaper articles, and supplemental homicide reports identified 30 murder-suicide cases involving 68 individuals within a three year period (1999,2000,2001) in Minnesota. Medical examiner records and the aforementioned sources provided data which was recorded on the Minnesota Violent Death Reporting System abstract form (MVDRS), adapted from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) abstract form. Results: Evidence supporting mental illness was found in 30% of the perpetrators; this was probably an underestimate due to limited sources of information. Case commonalities were: an older Caucasian male killing a younger Caucasian female; violence between intimate partners; and the use of firearms. Discussion: Minnesota murder-suicide incidences were comparable to other studies Demographic and situational factors characterizing the Minnesota cases concurred with previous findings. The MVDRS was effective for gathering information about murder suicides in a consistent and comparable manner. The NVDRS is a positive start toward a national violent death recording system.


SC 11.PAS.2004.Pitman.AK