The authors analyzed data extracted from the North Carolina Violent Death Reporting System between 2004 to 2013. As the state-wide system links all violent deaths occurring in the same incident, Smucker's team was able to extract information from all incidents that included both a suicide and a murder.
During the decade under investigation, 6,440 homicides were reported in North Carolina. Of these, 813 (16.8 percent) cases involved murder of a person by someone identified as their intimate partner. Women were the victim in three out of every four such cases, and were killed 99 percent of the time by a man.
Furthermore, the researchers found that one in every two cases in which someone was murdered by their intimate partner also ended in the perpetrator committing suicide. Guns were the weapon of choice seven out of every ten times. In 86.6 percent of these cases, men pulled the trigger before turning the gun on themselves too. Men were also more likely to kill other victims including the victim's children or parents if a gun was used. Including these additional deaths, male-perpetrated incidents of intimate partner homicide averaged 50 per cent more deaths if a gun was used compared to similar crimes committed with other weapons.
The findings support previous research that suggests homicide-suicides are more prevalent in intimate partner homicides than other types of murders, and that firearms are often the weapon of choice for such crimes. Existing research and this study show that children and other family members are often also victims in such crimes.