A pilot investigation into the phenomenon of murder-suicide in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
Research on murder-suicide within the South African context has been limited with the last published study in 1992 (Roos, Beyers, & Visser, 1992). This particular study investigated the phenomenon of murder-suicide in the city of Durban using techniques previously applied in a broad range of international studies (Berman, 1979; Cooper & Eaves, 1996; Rosenbaum, 1990). The study served as a pilot for a broader national study. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the incidence of murder-suicide in the sample and to generate demographic profiles of perpetrators and victims. It was hoped that the results from this study would pioneer the development of accurate base rates of murder-suicide in South Africa as there are currently no statistics of South African murder-suicide rates or characteristics. The sample consisted of 21 murder-suicide cases with 43 individuals in total having died from the murder-suicide events. The sample covered all murder-suicides in the Durban Metro area over the years 2000 and 2001. A Durban Metro Murder-Suicide Incidence Form was used to collect the data from post mortem examination reports at Gale Street Mortuary. Corresponding police reports where available substantiated this data. The incident rate of murder-suicide in Durban over the two-year period was found to be higher than the international average. This may be attributed to the violent social context in which the study took place. The reliability of this finding would be influenced by the small sample size. Typical profiles of perpetrators and victims were generated. The typical profile of a perpetrator was found to be a Black male aged 32 years with a secondary school education and currently unemployed or working in the police or security sector. He was typically be the boyfriend or spouse of the victim and committed the homicide and suicide using a firearm. The typical profile of a victim was a Black female aged 26 years with at least a secondary school education and currently unemployed. She was typically the spouse or girlfriend of the perpetrator. Her death would usually be attributed to multiple gunshot wounds to the head or chest. The findings suggest that Durban's murder-suicides profiles follow similar patterns to those observed internationally.
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