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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
28-May-2009

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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22165
BioMed Central
@biomedcentral

How do filicide offenders differ from other murderers?

People who commit filicide, the killing of their own child, are no more psychotically disordered than other homicide offenders. Research published in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry has shown that prevention of filicide cannot remain the task of psychiatry alone, but health care and society at large must work to prevent the danger.

Hanna Putkonen from Vanha Vaasa Hospital, Finland, worked with a team of Finnish researchers to compare the psychosocial history, index offence, and psychiatric morbidity of filicide offenders with other homicide offenders. She said, "The novel results of this nationwide study reinforce the general impression that filicide offenders are a distinct group of homicide offenders. However, they did not emerge as mentally disordered as has previously been supposed".

Filicide offenders were not as often intoxicated with alcohol during the crime and they had significantly less previous criminal offending than the homicidal controls. They were more likely to be employed and were not psychopaths. Half of the filicide offenders but none of the controls attempted suicide at the crime scene. According to Putkonen, "It seems filicide as a phenomenon is closely associated with suicide; perhaps at times it is even more about the suicide than the killing".

The researchers conclude that, although psychopathy was not a risk factor for filicide, the filicide offenders did exhibit emotional problems which should be noted as risk factors and that their suicidal behavior signals distress. Putkonen said, "The filicide offenders might be people who are incapable of handling everyday difficulties. Parents who are severely fatigued or otherwise not able to cope must receive adequate support".

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Notes to Editors

1. Differences between homicide and filicide offenders; results of a nationwide register-based case-control study
Hanna Putkonen, Ghitta Weizmann-Henelius, Nina Lindberg, Markku Eronen and Helina Hakkanen
BMC Psychiatry (in press)

During the embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/1403721592247031_article.pdf?random=934863

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpsychiatry/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

2. BMC Psychiatry is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of the prevention, diagnosis and management of psychiatric disorders, as well as related molecular genetics, pathophysiology, and epidemiology. BMC Psychiatry (ISSN 1471-244X) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Current Contents, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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