Mixed Methods Secondary Analysis of Older Adult Homicide-Suicides from National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) Data

Sheryl L. Chatfield 1 * , Kristen A. DeBois 2, Shelly D. Evans 3

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp. 115-132

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Although homicide followed by suicide incidents comprise a small proportion of all violent deaths in the U.S., the number of cases involving older adults has increased steadily during the current century. There is no central tracking system for these cases, but restricted access data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) may present a potential source for gaining additional insights into older adult homicide-suicide incidents. The aims of this mixed methods secondary analysis research study included: to qualitatively identify salient themes which characterize intimate partner homicide followed by suicide incidents among older adults and use those themes to describe a prototypical case; to quantitatively identify prevalence and co-occurrence of qualitatively developed themes; to quantitatively compare attributes of NVDRS case data with a previously developed typology of case scenarios based on assessment of media reports. Data for this project included all identified homicide-suicide incidents among older adults which occurred during 2014-2016, the most recent years available. We identified 121 intimate partner homicide-suicide incidents captured in NVDRS records, reflecting results from 32 US states. Results of mixed methods analyses suggested the typical case in these data was characterized by male partner’s interpretation of a traditional male role and associated responsibilities, and included prior expressions of intent. These factors, alone and in combination with other developed themes, identify and exemplify risk factors for homicide-suicide in aging couples. Results of this study illustrate the value of secondary mixed methods analysis of unstructured data to explore the of an enduring public health concern. 

Keywords: Homicide-suicide, older adults, secondary analysis, mixed methods, NVDRS