Belfast Telegraph Article

September 2016

Murder-suicide is mercifully very rare. In the last few years, both psychologists and criminologists have tried to collect more systematic data on this phenomenon in a range of countries to give us some understanding of how and why it might occur.  I outlined this evidence.  I wrote that no theories from the past can tell us with any certainty what happened in that ordinary family home in County Cavan, and I explained that the existing theories are not definitive, nor even in agreement.  Some of the theories point to characteristics of the perpetrator (depression, possessiveness etc.), some to the nature of the relationship (ambivalent, under threat), and some to broader issues like economic factors.  Most try to include emotional factors like 'anger', 'shame' and 'guilt', which is presumably necessary because of the nature of the act itself (remove everything you know or will ever know). I suggested that all these theories may contain an element of truth.  What I argued is that we still don't have enough  psychological understanding of this most heinous of crimes and that we clearly need more research into this uncommon act, which seems beyond our comprehension.