Mortality among homicide offenders: a retrospective population-based long-term follow-up

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Abstract

Background Empirical data on homicide and homicide offenders are needed in the ongoing discussion on violence and crime prevention. One issue, insufficiently investigated, is the post-trial life course of homicide offenders.

Aim To examine whether the mortality rate, as well as cause and manner of death, of homicide offenders is different from the general population.

Method An incidence cohort of Swedish homicide offenders from 1970 to 1980 (n = 153) was re-examined by computerized record linkage with the National Cause-of-Death Register for the period between trial and 1 October 2002, i.e. 22–32 years after the offence. Death certificates were analysed, and standard procedures for calculating Standard Mortality Rate (SMR) and survival analysis were employed.

Results Half of the study subjects had died by 2002. The overall mortality rate was about three times higher than that of the general population. In particular, the risk of suicide was salient.

Implications It can be argued that offenders' self-neglect and self-contempt merge with public and professional views, predisposing to an increased risk of premature death. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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