Pregnancy-Associated Homicide and Suicide
To analyze differences in the demographic and social factors associated with pregnancy-associated violent deaths due to homicide compared with suicide by pregnancy timing.
This was a retrospective cohort study using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System from 2008 to 2019. We included females aged 15–44 years who died by suicide, defined as intentional self-harm, or homicide. Pregnancy-associated deaths were defined as those that occurred during or within 1 year of pregnancy.
Of 38,417 female victims aged 15–44 years identified in the data set, 10,411 had known pregnancy status; 1,300 of those deaths were pregnancy associated. Of all deaths with known pregnancy status, 3,203 were by homicide (30.8%) and 7,208 (69.2%) were by suicide. Pregnancy-associated homicide deaths made up 20.6% of all homicide deaths, and pregnancy-associated suicide deaths made up 8.8% of all suicide deaths. Individuals who died by homicide were younger (29.4±8.2 years vs 31.5±8.6 years), more likely to be single or never married (61.0% vs 50.0%), and had a higher proportion of associate’s degree–level education or less as compared with individuals who died by suicide (28.1% vs 43.9%). Of individuals who died by homicide, 37.7% were Black or African American, 13.4% were Hispanic, and 56.0%% were White. In comparison, 6.9% of individuals who died by suicide were Black or African American, 8.0% were Hispanic, and 85.0% were White. Having a mental health problem and any substance use were significantly more often associated with suicide deaths compared with homicide deaths (77.4% vs 7.2%, P<.001 for mental health, 33.3% vs 12.8%, P<.001 for substance use, respectively). Intimate partner violence was prevalent in both groups, although significantly higher in homicide deaths (57.3% vs 37.1%, P<.001). This pattern persisted when stratified by pregnancy status.
Mental health problems, substance use disorder, and intimate partner violence are preceding circumstances to pregnancy-associated suicide and homicide.