Losing a loved one to homicide: Prevalence and mental health correlates in a national sample of young adults

Authors

  • Heidi M. Zinzow,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC and National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
    • 418 Brackett Hall, Department of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634
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  • Alyssa A. Rheingold,

    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
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  • Alesia O. Hawkins,

    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
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  • Benjamin E. Saunders,

    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
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  • Dean G. Kilpatrick

    1. National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
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  • This research was supported by Grant 1 R01 HD046830 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Views contained in this article do not necessarily represent those of the National Institute of Health or its associated agencies.

Abstract

The present study examined the prevalence, demographic distribution, and mental health correlates of losing a loved one to homicide. A national sample of 1,753 young adults completed structured telephone interviews measuring violence exposure, mental health diagnoses, and loss of a family member or close friend to a drunk driving accident (vehicular homicide) or murder (criminal homicide). The prevalence of homicide survivorship was 15%. African Americans were more highly represented among criminal homicide survivors. Logistic regression analyses found that homicide survivors were at risk for past year posttraumatic stress disorder (OR = 1.88), major depressive episode (OR = 1.64), and drug abuse/dependence (OR = 1.77). These findings highlight the significant mental health needs of homicide survivors.

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