Author(s): Lindqvist P
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Abstract All cases of criminal homicide in northern Sweden between 1970-81 were studied, 71 cases altogether (64 offenders). Homicide was a rare event and more infrequent compared with Sweden as a whole. The offenders were predominantly males, ages 20 to 40. Half of the victims were females. Mutual intoxication was a feature in 44\% of the cases and in 34\% both participants were sober. The majority of the victims were related by blood or marriage to the offender. Sharp instruments, blunt instruments and use of firearms were, in this order, the most common methods of killing. Almost one-third of the offenders had no former conviction, minor trespasses excluded. Sixty-three percent of the offenders had previously been subjected to psychiatric care, 31\% were considered mentally diseased at the trial and another 22\% had also a coexisting abuse or personality disorder. Three-quarters of the offenders were transferred to closed psychiatric care. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism were prevalent among 30\% of the offenders and another 27\% were also mentally diseased or had a personality disorder. The shares of mentally diseased and abusers/alcoholics outnumbered the prevalence of these conditions in the general population as well as in many international studies. Ten subjects committed suicide before trial; these persons were relatively more often sober at the act and fewer were alcoholics. Eight had previously received psychiatric treatment. They were more prone to kill a member of their nuclear family. Only two subjects had a previous criminal record; both concerned convictions of manslaughter. Nineteen offenders were sober at the act; 15 of these were mentally diseased. The sober offenders hardly ever attacked a person outside their family. Their motives were frequently premeditated. The killings were usually by quick, certain methods, such as firearms. No sober offender attacked an intoxicated person. The sober offenders usually had no criminal records and the homicides were often considered as murder. Five of the sober offenders committed suicide while the others were surrendered for closed psychiatric care in all but one case. Of the preventive measures, restrictions in the trade of alcohol are possibly the only factors that can reduce the homicide rate to any observable degree.
This article was published in Int J Law Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Mental Disorders and Treatment