Skip to main content

Filicide: A Comparison by Sex and Presence or Absence of Self-destructive Behavior

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to identify sociodemographic, contextual, situational, and individual variables, as well as certain behavioral warning signs, associated with filicide as a function of sex of the agressors and the presence or absence of self-destructive behaviours. The data cover all officially registered filicides committed in Quebec from January 1, 1986, to March 31, 1994, against youths under the age of 18 years. For the group of individuals who have self-destructive behaviours, results indicate that men compared to women are more likely to commit spousal homicide, to kill a higher number of victims, to be going through a conjugal separation, to have committed conjugal violence, to have threatened suicide, and to have threatened to kill their spouse. For the group of individuals who commit no self-destructive acts, women are more likely to present with a depressive disorder, whereas men are more likely to maltreated their children. Men who do not commit a self-destructive act are characterized by a significantly higher likelihood of maltreatment against their children and of tyrannical discipline, whereas men who commit a self-destructive act perpetrate filicide as a means of reprisal against their spouse. Results underscore the importance of considering the different groups of individuals who commit filicide as a function of sex as well as presence or absence of self-destructive behaviour.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. The Australian data reported by Wallace (1986) and the French data reported by Fornes et al. (1995) demonstrated that women were more likely than men to commit suicide after perpetrating filicide.

  2. Familicide is the murder of one’s spouse or ex-spouse and at least of one or more of their children.

  3. We are beholden to the Bureau du Coroner en chef de Québec (Office of the Chief Coroner of Quebec) for its collaboration in carrying out this project.

References

  • Adinkrah, M. (2003). Men who kill their own children: Paternal filicide incidents in contemporary Fiji. Child Abuse and Neglect, 27, 557–568.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Alder, C., & Polk, K. (2001). Child victims of homicide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bénézech, M. (1991). Dépression et crime : Revue de la littérature et observations originales. Annales Médico-psychologiques, 149, 150–165.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Campion, J. F., Cravens, J. M., & Covan, F. (1988). A study of filicidal men. American Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 1141–1144.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cheung, P. T. K. (1986). Maternal filicide in Hong Kong, 1971–85. Medicine, Science and the Law, 26, 185–192.

    Google Scholar 

  • Collins, P. L., Shaughnessy, M. F., Bradley, L., & Brown, K. (2001). Filicide–suicide: In search of meaning. North American Journal of Psychology, 3, 277–292.

    Google Scholar 

  • Conner, K. R., Cerulli, C., & Caine, E. D. (2002). Threatened and attempted suicide by partner-violent male respondents petitioned to family violence court. Violence and Victims, 17, 115–125.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cooper, M., & Eaves, D. (1996). Suicide following homicide in the family. Violence and Victims, 11, 99–112.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1988). Evolutionary social psychology and family homicide. Science, 242, 519–524.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dauvergne, M. (2002). L’homicide au Canada, 2001. Juristat, 22, 1–18.

    Google Scholar 

  • D’Orban, P. T. (1979). Women who kill their children. British Journal of Psychiatry, 134, 560–571.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • De Premorel, B. (1993). Le filicide paternel. In J.-L. Viaux (Ed.), Enfance en justice. Roven, France: Publications de l’Université de Roven.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dubé, M. (1998) Étude rétrospective des facteurs de risque et des indices comportementaux précurseurs de filicide chez une cohorte de parents québécois. Thèse de doctorat inédite, Université de Montréal.

  • Dubé, M., & Hodgins, S. (2001). Filicides maternels et paternels maltraitants: Facteurs de risque et indices comportementaux précurseurs. Revue québécoise de psychologie, 22, 81–98.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dubé, M., Hodgins, S., Léveillée, S., & Marleau, J. D. (2004). Étude comparative de filicides maternels et paternels : Facteurs associés et indices comportementaux précurseurs. Revue psychiatrie & violence et Forensic, Numéro spécial, Mai 2004, 31–36.

  • Ewing, P. (1997). Fatal families : The dynamics of intrafamilial homicide. United States of America: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fedorowycz, O. (2001). L’homicide au Canada. Juristat, 21, 1–18.

    Google Scholar 

  • Felthous, A. R., & Hempel, A. (1995). Combined homicide-suicides: A review. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 40, 846–857.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fornes, P., Druilhe, L., & Lecomte, D. (1995). Chilhood homicide in Paris, 1990–1993: A report of 81 cases. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 40, 201–204.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Husain, A., & Daniel, A. A. (1984). A comparative study of filicidal and abusive mothers. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 29, 596–598.

    Google Scholar 

  • Langer, W. L. (1974). Infanticide: A historical survey. History of Childhood Quarterly, 1, 353–365.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Marks, M. N., & Kumar, R. (1996). Infanticide in Scotland. Medicine, Science and the Law, 36, 299–305.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marleau, J. D., Roy, R., Laporte, L., Webanck, T., & Poulin, B. (1995). Homicide d’enfants commis par la mère. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 40, 142–149.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marleau, J. D., Poulin, B., Webanck, T., Roy, R., & Laporte, L. (1999a). Paternal filicide: A study of 10 men. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 44, 57–63.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marleau, J. D., Roy, R., Webanck, T., Laporte, L., & Poulin, B. (1999b). Les parents qui tuent leurs enfants. In J. Proulx, M. Cusson, & M. Ouimet (Eds.), Les violences criminelles (pp. 107–129). Les Presses de l’Université Laval.

  • Meszaros, K., & Fischer-Danzinger, D. (2000). Extended suicide attempt: Psychopathology, personality and risk factors. Psychopathology, 33, 5–10.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McGrath, P. (1992). Maternal filicide in Broadmoor Hospital 1919–69. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 3, 271–297.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mouzos, J., & Rushforth, C. (2003). Family homicide in Australia. Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra (Australia), no. 255. 6 p.

  • Paris, J., Nowlis, D., & Bowen, R. (1987). Long term follow-up of borderline patients in a general hospital. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 28, 530–535.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Resnick, P. J. (1969). Child murder by parents: A psychiatric review of filicide. American Journal of Psychiatry, 126, 325–334.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Resnick, P. J. (1970). Murder of the newborn: A psychiatric review of neonaticide. American Journal of Psychiatry, 126, 1414–1420.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rodenburg, M. (1971). Child murder by depressed parents. Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal, 16, 41–48.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rosenbaum, M. (1990). The role of depression in couples involved in murder–suicide and homicide. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 147(8), 1036–1039.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Scott, P. D. (1973). Parents who kill their children. Medicine, Science and the Law, 13, 120–126.

    Google Scholar 

  • Silver, D., & Cardish, R. (1991). BPD outcome studies : Psychotherapy implications. Presented at the American Psychiatric Association, New Orleans.

  • Stone, M. (1990). The fate of borderline patients. Successful outcome and psychiatric practice. New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vanamo, T., Kauppi, A., Kankola, K., Merikanto, J., & Räsänen, E. (2001). Intra-familial child homicide in Finland 1970–1994: Incidence, causes of death and demographic characteristics. Forensic Science International, 17, 199–204.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wallace, A. (1986). Homicide: The social reality. Sydney, Australia: New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilczynski, A. (1997). Child homicide. London: Greenwich Medical Media Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, M., Daly, M., & Daniele, A. (1995). Familicide: The killing of spouse and children. Aggressive Behavior, 21, 275–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Suzanne Léveillée.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Léveillée, S., Marleau, J.D. & Dubé, M. Filicide: A Comparison by Sex and Presence or Absence of Self-destructive Behavior. J Fam Viol 22, 287–295 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-007-9081-3

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-007-9081-3

Keywords

  • Filicide
  • Suicide
  • Familicide
  • Homicide
  • Uxoricide
  • Child abuse