Homicide

Overview


Definition


Assessment

Firearms are the most commonly used weapon in youth homicide in the United States, making access to guns is an important issue to address in violence risk assessments.

Homicides are:

  • Most often committed by males

  • Usually committed against friends or acquaintances

  • Mostly one-on-one (vs mass shootings)

Risk factors for homicide include:

  • Young male

  • Unemployed, impoverished

  • Access to firearms

    • Parents of adolescents should be counseled on safe handling and limiting access to weapons (e.g. keeping weapons unloaded and locked away, storing ammunition and weapons separately)

  • Substance abuse

  • Antisocial personality disorder

  • History of violence/criminality

  • History of child abuse

  • Impulsivity

Management

Providers should mitigate risk factors and increase protective factors.

Ways to increase protective factors:

  • Refer to mental health programs that promote resilience and healthy coping

  • Encourage connection to family and community

Other Considerations

A family history of mental illness increases risk for the development of mental illness, but is not as strongly associated with homicide as firearm access.

Excessive exposure to violent media is a risk factor for increased aggression and a decreased likelihood of intervening when witnessing violence. Participation in violent sports (e.g. martial arts) is not a consistently recognized risk factor.

Similarly, exposure to violence can increase the risk of future aggression, and substance use (especially alcohol) is a risk factor for violence, but both are not as strongly associated with homicide as firearm access.