Child killers no more psychotic than other murderers

May 29th, 2009 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 29 (IANS) Parents who snuff out the lives of their own kids are no more disordered than other murderers. Research has shown that prevention of infanticide cannot remain the task of psychiatry alone, but health care and society at large must work to prevent the danger.
Hanna Putkonen from Vanha Vaasa Hospital, Finland, worked with a team of Finnish researchers to compare the psychosocial history, index offence, and psychiatric morbidity of such offenders with other homicide offenders.

“The novel results of this nationwide study reinforce the general impression that filicide (infanticide) offenders are a distinct group of homicide offenders. However, they did not emerge as mentally disordered as has previously been supposed,” said Putkonen.

Filicide offenders were not as often drunk during the crime and they had significantly less previous criminal offending than the homicidal controls. They were more likely to be employed and were not psychopaths.

Half of the filicide offenders but none of the controls attempted suicide at the crime scene. Putkonen said: “It seems filicide as a phenomenon is closely associated with suicide; perhaps at times it is even more about the suicide than the killing”.

The researchers conclude that, although psychopathy was not a risk factor for filicide, the filicide offenders did exhibit emotional problems which should be noted as risk factors and that their suicidal behaviour signals distress, said a Vanha Vaasa release.

The study was published in the open access BMC Psychiatry.

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