The purpose of this phenomenological study was to identify commonly occurring factors in filicide-suicide offenders, to describe this phenomenon better, and ultimately to enhance prevention of child murder. Thirty families' files from a county coroner's office were reviewed for commonly occurring factors in cases of filicide-suicide. Parental motives for filicide-suicide included altruistic and acutely psychotic motives. Twice as many fathers as mothers committed filicide-suicide during the study period, and older children were more often victims than infants. Records indicated that parents frequently showed evidence of depression or psychosis and had prior mental health care. The data support the hypothesis that traditional risk factors for violence appear different from commonly occurring factors in filicide-suicide. This descriptive study represents a step toward understanding filicide-suicide risk.
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