Toward a Better Understanding of the Psychosocial Issues and Different Profiles of Male Filicides

Suzanne Léveillée, Carolanne Vignola-Lévesque
Journal of Psychology 2020, 154 (7): 467-486
Violence against children is a major public health concern and involves significant consequences. However, compared to research on the impact of violence on children, far less is known about the perpetrators of violence against children. The present study aimed to evaluate the psychosocial characteristics and motives of perpetrators of filicide in order to identify their psychosocial profile. Our study analyzed 50 perpetrators of filicides committed in the province of Quebec between 1997 and 2012. Data was obtained from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Quebec, and additional information were retrieved from newspapers. Descriptive analyzes identified the sociodemographic, criminological, psychological-psychiatric characteristics and the motivations of these men. The results indicate that male perpetrators of filicide are, on average, 34.8 years old ( SD  = 11.9), 46% between the ages of 18 and 35, 48% between the ages of 36 and 55, and 4% are 56 years of age and over. Most filicides were committed following a marital separation (34%), the victims were between 0 and 5 years old (78%) and they were killed with bare hands (78%). Half of the perpetrators of filicide had a criminal record (42%) or history of domestic violence (50%). Some of these men had traits or borderline personality disorder (32%) and depressive symptoms (24%). The addition of clinical cases expands our understanding of the different profiles of perpetrators of filicide. Our study provides avenues for intervention and to promote a better prevention of this type of homicide.

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