Homicide perpetrated by older people

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    Objective This study aims to describe the circumstances in which older people commit homicide, the form of assessment they undergo and to examine the proportion of those who suffer from mental illness. Methods The study was carried out as part of the England and Wales National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness based on a five-year sample. The Inquiry was notified of the names of those over the age of 60 years convicted of homicide and also the details of the offence, sentencing and outcome in court by the Home Office. The Inquiry collected clinical data of those known to have had contact with mental health services from the responsible service and also retrieved psychiatric reports of those convicted. Results Homicide incidents perpetrated by older people typically involve a man killing his partner in an impulsive manner. The most common method was by using a sharp instrument (34%), followed by the use of a blunt instrument (26%). The use of firearms was rare (11%). Perpetrators aged 65 years and older were significantly more likely to kill a current or former spouse/partner and less likely to kill an acquaintance. Forty-four per cent of perpetrators over 65 years old suffered from depression at the time of the offence, whereas rates of schizophrenia and alcohol dependence were low. Conclusions The information used in the study was extracted from a unique national database of homicide perpetrators. The characteristics and the circumstances of homicides perpetrated by older people are different to other age groups. An older-people homicide may be preventable if depression is identified early in older people. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1099-1105
    Number of pages6
    JournalInternational journal of geriatric psychiatry
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • depression
    • forensic
    • homicide
    • older people


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