Murder suicides are an ongoing a problem in our nation and in our state.  On any given day in the US, someone in the U.S. uses a gun to kill a loved one before turning it on themselves. In some cases, the shooter kills multiple members of their own family.

In the last month, there have been at least five murder suicides in Tennessee.  Three occurred in the last week.

“On average, every month in Tennessee, between 50 to 60 people will use a gun to take their own life. That’s more than one per day,” explained Beth Joslin Roth, policy director for The Safe Tennessee Project. “We are also fifth in the nation for women murdered by men. The majority are killed with guns and almost all know the men who kill them. Murder suicides are the intersections of these two tragic forms of gun violence.”

Murder-suicides are a shockingly common type of American gun violence. There are an estimated 11 such incidents each week. Research from the Violence Policy Center found that more than 1,300 Americans die in murder-suicides each year. Nine out of 10 murder-suicides involve a gun. In nearly two-thirds of all murder-suicides, an intimate partner of the shooter is among the victims.

Stronger domestic violence dispossession laws that make it difficult for abusers to gain access to guns would reduce murder suicides and domestic homicides. Extreme risk protection orders, also known as “red flag laws”, that can temporarily remove guns from individuals at elevated risk of endangering themselves of others, would also be effective at reducing the number of suicides in general, and murder-suicides in particular.

“Murder suicides happen daily and are familiar to those of us who study this issue,” Roth said. “However, they are rarely included in conversations about gun violence, despite the alarming frequency at which they occur and the resulting family trauma and disruption of communities they cause.”

Murder suicides in Tennessee over the last week:

September 7, 2019 – Hermitage
A 64-year-old man fatally shot his 61-year-old wife and 6-year-old grandson before turning the gun on himself. The couple’s 4-year-old granddaughter was not physically injured and ran for help.

September 5, 2019 – Clarksville
A man shot his wife on the front porch of their home and shot another person outside the home, leaving him wounded. He then barricaded himself inside. After an hours long standoff, he turned the gun on himself.

September 4, 2019 – Pigeon Forge
A man was found outside a Pigeon Forge cabin, dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His wife was found inside. She had been fatally shot. Police believe the shooting to be a murder suicide.

Murder suicides in Tennessee in August:

August 14, 2019 – Estill Springs
A man shot and killed his ex-wife in her home then turned the gun on himself. The couple’s daughter found their bodies.

August 4, 2019 – Cordova
A man and woman were both found shot to death in a Cordova home. Police believe the shooting was a murder suicide.

Earlier this summer in Maryville, a man who was separated from his wife fatally shot their 8-year-old son before shooting and killing himself.  The man was a first grade teacher and his son was a third grader at the same school.

September 8th through 13th is National Suicide Prevention Week.

Click here for additional data on the increasing number of suicides in Tennessee.