While intimate partner homicides are generally discussed as events in which there is a single homicide victim, they often involve multiple homicide victims and even the homicide offender’s suicide. These additional homicide victims are often the children of the targeted intimate partner, though they are also other family members, friends, acquaintances, or others. Sometimes the number of people killed in an intimate partner homicide event reaches four or more, crossing the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s threshold of four deaths for classifying it as a mass murder (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2005). In fact, using this four-fatality definition, the typical mass murder is one that is committed with a gun and involves family member victims and a history of relationship conflict. While the majority of intimate partner homicides are committed with guns, the proportion committed with guns is higher when there are multiple victims and offender suicides. This is undoubtedly due, in part, to the lethality of guns.

This paper will explore multiple victim intimate partner homicides, including mass murders, and intimate partner homicide-suicides, regardless of number of homicide victims. It will briefly cover how often they occur, the frequency of firearm use in these homicides, relationship-related circumstances under which they occur (such as separation and domestic violence), possible explanations for why they occur, and opportunities for intervention, including firearm restrictions. Importantly, this is not a comprehensive examination of all possible risk factors for multiple victim intimate partner homicides or intimate partner homicide-suicides; it is a focused discussion of domestic violence, separation, and gun use.

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