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Forces of Production and Direction: A Test of An Expanded Model of Suicide and Homicide

NCJ Number
Homicide Studies Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2003 Pages: 36-57
Ni He; Liqun Cao; William Wells; Edward R. Maguire
Date Published
February 2003
22 pages
This article discusses the use of the stream analogy of lethal violence.
According to the stream analogy of lethal violence, homicide and suicide are two different manifestations of the same event: personal violence. Violence is turned outward toward others in a homicide, while violence is turned inward to oneself in a suicide. Empirical tests of this explanation have identified two major factors, income inequality and economic development, that may predict the total amount of lethal violence and the manner in which lethal violence is expressed. This study intended to advance the understanding of stream analogy in three major ways: (1) proposing expanded models that account for both the total amount of lethal violence (production) and the preference of lethal violence (direction); (2) using more recent data and examining in a cross-national context with improved measures; and (3) answering to what extent the diverse forms of lethal violence have a similar etiology. Homicide and suicide rates were selected for the 5-year time period from 1989 to 1993. It was found that the stream analogy was indeed helpful in the understanding of lethal violence. The diverse forms of lethal violence did share a similar etiology. Out of four independent variables, three of them were found to be significant in predicting either the total lethal violence or the tendency of suicide over homicide, and their signs were all in the direction expected by the theory and empirical research. Income inequality and economic development were not related to lethal violence but were related to the tendency of suicide over homicide. The divorce rate was an important predictor for lethal violence, but its effect on the tendency of suicide over homicide was insignificant. It is concluded that the stream analogy has a role to play in future research of lethal violence. Insight can only be achieved both by relying on the stream analogy and by separate analysis of homicide and suicide. 3 appendices, 4 notes, 50 references


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