Murder-Suicide: An American Phenomenon

Murder-Suicide: An American Phenomenon | murder-suicide-600x450 | Society US News

Why do most of the world’s murder-suicides occur in the United States? What does this truly alarming epidemic suggest about US politics, culture, and the country’s immense military-intelligence-media complex? The Murder/Suicide blog takes on the important task of chronicling all homicide / suicide events throughout the world by posting press reports of each incident.

A chilling observation is that most murder-suicides taking place since 2009 have occurred in the United States.

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The site references a scholarly article to describe the crime’s parameters:

The most common murder-suicide scenario involves a White male perpetrator in his 40s who kills his estranged spouse and perhaps his children before killing himself. The three most common categories of murder-suicide are cases in which (1) the act is caused by jealously or concern about age or illness; (2) the act is perpetrated by a parent who kills all of the children and then themselves; and (3) the act involves disgruntled employees, cult members, or members of religious or political groups who target a large number of victims before committing suicide.

Yet how frequently can the motives be reliably ascertained if there are no witnesses to these crimes?

A plausible contributing factor for this phenomenon taking place so prevalently in the United States might be Americans’ high consumption of psychotropic drugs, many of which have been proven to induce homicidal and suicidal ideation. Yet Europeans are also notorious for taking such substances, with no comparable effect demonstrated via UK or EU-area press reports.

Another potential source for the inordinate incidence of murder/suicide in America documented above is that news media readily report–if not shamelessly sensationalize–such tragic events. At the same time, however, most European countries’ news media also hastily report such crime.

Are Americans inherently predisposed to committing such atrocities? Is it the variously tasteless (if not toxic) ingredients of our popular culture? Again, such mass culture has transcended national borders for decades.

A less-understood basis for this uniquely American phenomenon is similarly suggested in the dramatic increase in mass shootings in recent years. An FBI report (PDF) released in September 2013 revealed an average of six shooting incidents occurring between 2000 and 2007. That average rose to more than 16 per year in the following seven years, through 2013. The period included the 2012 shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in addition to the Washington Navy Yard incident.

With the above in mind, one thing largely excluded from consideration is the potential Operation Gladio-style deployment of behavioral technologies alongside coordinated terrorist activities to keep US citizens in a perpetual state of fear, and thus inclined to further exchange their remaining liberties for a falsely perceived sense of safety.


Professor James F. Tracy is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. James Tracy’s work on media history, politics and culture has appeared in a wide variety of academic journals, edited volumes, and alternative news and opinion outlets. James is editor of Union for Democratic Communication’s Journal Democratic Communiqué and a contributor to Project Censored’s forthcoming publication Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2012. Additional writings and information are accessible at memoryholeblog.com.

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About The Author

James F. Tracy's work on media history, politics and culture has appeared in a wide variety of academic journals, edited volumes, and alternative news and opinion outlets. James is editor of Union for Democratic Communication’s Journal Democratic Communiqué and a contributor to Project Censored’s forthcoming publication Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2012. Additional writings and information are accessible at memoryholeblog.com.

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