Monday 11 December 2017

It is time to dig deeper into our painful past if we are to prevent the horror of 'familicide'

Gardaí escort hearses carrying the remains of the Hawe family Photo: Arthur Carron
Gardaí escort hearses carrying the remains of the Hawe family Photo: Arthur Carron

Patricia Casey

We've had gangland killings, we've had slaughter because of mistaken identity, we've had Isil with its unmentionable brutality. And when we thought nothing would shock us any more, we have a family of five killed by one of its members who takes his own life in the process.

This type of murder-suicide is known as familicide (a murder- suicide in which at least one spouse and at least one child loses their life, or in which a parent or other close relatives are killed). Thus the victims are close blood relatives, and all of these cases are characterised by the death by suicide of the perpetrator.

In Ireland there have been at least four cases in the past 10 years in which whole families were wiped out, and at least six other instances where several members of the family died. All of these included children; in each, the perpetrator died by suicide.

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