There were 24 murder-suicides last year in Ohio, reports the Associated Press. Such cases are a small part of the nation’s crime rate, but no one knows often they occur. Some studies put the number at 0.2 to 0.4 per 100,000 people annually, or perhaps a little over a thousand murder-suicides a year. The overall U.S. murder total is about 17,000 a year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta hopes a new process for collecting violent crime data will help researchers better understand murder-suicides.
Early next year, CDC will release the first detailed summary of a full year of violent death data from 16 of the 17 states now in a system that links police reports, death certificates, and coroner’s reports. That linking is aimed at a key problem in counting murder-suicides: each death is often classified separately – one murder, one suicide – without regard to the entire event. The CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control started the state-based National Violent Death Reporting System four years ago. The goal is to include all 50 states. “One of the most important pieces in prevention is to understand how often is this happening, why is it happening and potentially what can be done at a community level and a national level even to prevent that,” said Debra Karch, a CDC behavioral scientist.