Suspicious deaths are not always that easy to classify. Homicide, murder, and manslaughter have precise meanings in the field of criminal justice and absolutely are not interchangeable. Homicide is the unlawful taking of human life. Homicide usually occurs in particular context in a very small geographical area. One must understand that in some cases, the nature and variation of both ecological and social environments may have a bearing on an increase violent response to problems. They are neither justifiable nor excusable and referred to by law and society as crimes.
Murders are those homicides that were committed with malice and those that do not fall to this category are called as manslaughter. Homicide which is usually defined to be the willful killing of another human being by another may be considered as either non-criminal or criminal (O’Kane 19-20). Categorization largely depends on the circumstances from which the killing took place and the characteristics of the one who had committed the act. Non-criminal homicide is further divided into two main types which are justifiable homicides and excusable homicide.
Justifiable homicide implies situations where the killer’s actions are considered as legal. The best way to comprehend this is the case of a state executioner. State executioners administer lethal injection to prisoners who were condemned to death by court. The act is not considered as criminal because it was carried by virtue of his obligations and is only carrying out legal mandate of the state. Fatal legal acts might be seen and performed by the killer but without any further legal consequence or criminal intent.
Another common scenario is self defense where the killer had no other reasonable means of eluding his attacker in an imminent danger of death. Sometimes court accepts justifiable homicides which are intentional killings done in accordance to legal obligation like euthanasia, where in some states or countries, the act is already considered as legal on certain terms. This is the scene or act where the law recognizes no wrong like killing in self defense or like resisting unlawful invasion of a home or property.
Excusable homicide occurs when a person’s death results from accidents or misfortunes on legal actions including those that were performed by those who were found as legally insane. Sometimes a homicide may be treated by court as excusable if it results during a lawful act not amounting to criminal negligence like driving accidents. The criminal category of homicide certainly has its own types and stages (Towl & Crighton 45). First is the single homicide where there is only one victim involved. Second is the double homicide where two victims are involved in one event and of same location.
Third is the triple homicide where there are three victims involved in one even and at same location. Fourth is the mass homicide where there are four or more victims involved in a single event and at same location. This is further divided into non-familial and familial mass homicide. Fifth is the spree homicide where a series of killings are being committed without an emotional cooling off period. This is usually done in more than one site and involves more than one event. Sixth is the serial homicide usually committed in a series of three or more separate offenses.
This has an unspecified emotional cooling off period between offenses. The nature of the killing is usually seen at different sites and involves separate events. A single victim murder is usually concentrated in the urban areas that were commonly populated by blacks. It is also common in the far South areas where the practice of settling arguments is normally done through gunfire. Nearly half of these homicide victims were employed in retail establishments as such as grocery stores, eating and drinking places. Robbery is normally the prime motivation of the killings.
Their victims usually involves younger worker between the ages of sixteen and seventeen. 82% were shot, 9% staffed, others died from injuries as a result of beating, strangulation or some other methods used by the killer. The alarming statistics of course have sobering consequence for both the victim’s family and of the companies. The most significant issue is the needless loss of human life and it has thrown affected companies into the tailspin of economic perspective losing millions of dollars from lost productivity and downtime. Lost work days could well translate into million dollars of lost wages.
In a macro analysis of workplace legal and security angle, it very well constitutes medical cost and worker’s compensation cost. For the victim’s coworkers and families, differing emotional reaction to violence in the workplace can be seen. Both often experienced heightened anxiety and depression. Suppressed emotions and anger often lead to nightmares, sleeplessness, withdrawal, paranoia and substance abuse. Responses differ with the kind of relationship the individual had with the victim. The effects shall we say largely differs on the circumstances under which the homicide was committed like domestic violence and abuse.
This relatively involves interpersonal conflict and self defense in response to abuse and direct attack. This usually results from prior conflicts. The physical attack of which has escalated to fear for well being and personal safety and feeling for immediate danger. Killing is usually taken as an effort to self preservation or self defense. The victim’s family here is normally his immediate family. Women opt to stay in such dangerous relationship because of traditional social norms and expectations, child custody, and economic helplessness.
The victim’s family is usually left with not much economic support and is in need of emotional and moral group support. Helplessness could well make these women go with another abusive relationship by which they will have no means or do not know how to protect their children. Their children could well be submitted into another form of domestic abuse again. Young ones either run away or take any form of substance abuse to escape reality making pain, anger and helplessness easier to bear in many forms including sexual abuse. In a lot of cases, they find it difficult to manage their extreme emotional and physical trauma.
Typically single, double, and triple homicide effects and responses from its survivors only differ to the degree of its relationship to the victim. The intimate the relationship, the deeper the effect and the higher the response level in terms of anger. No matter what the situation is, if the cause of the killing is directly related to personal motivations, then we cannot deny that the survivors will fear much of their well being and their safety that they have a great probability of taking a recourse of their own with the intent of protecting themselves either lawful or unlawful way as the situation suggest.
Mass murders, serial killing, and spree killings presents particularly traumatic events not only for the survivors but for the other witnesses as well. It impacts victims in unique and probably more profound ways than other forms of catastrophic disaster. This is usually followed by feelings of uncertainty, distrust and loss of control. The fear that we are talking here is fundamentally different from those that are associated with natural disasters. The unpredictability of the threat of any future attack may create the possibility for mass panic and individual or small group events.
Mass murders, serial, and spree killings can well lead to domestic and gang violence and race conflicts. Mass murders reflect population distribution. Mass killers do not select their victims but do this on a random basis. Often survivors and witnesses do not understand and see the message or rationale or the motives of the killing. The message is unclear and they tend to incite deep fear for those who are closely related to the victims. Thus their abilities to understand, anticipate, or delimit the event are seriously impaired and unstructured.
This normally leads to increased fear, anxiety, and high possibility on psychological difficulty affecting domestic stability. Mixed feelings like bystander’s guilt, rage, and shame will also progress in the process. Different feelings emerged in different person depending on the issues that they have with themselves and of their relation to the victim. The central issue that remains repeatedly discussed in media is the question of security of the place of killing. They are now more fearful of being attacked by strangers on the street.
There are still other extraordinary psychological impact that may be determined from these undesirable events as such are the dislocation of people made by their transfers or residences, disruption of health and education as an effect of these transfers, the diversion of resources, and other extensive economic impacts. Gun fueled violence disrupts the ability of the state to effectively govern and provide basic security to the locale. This in turn promotes more fear, further arming of the locales, and more violence.
Some co-victims of homicides are often subjected to silence and state invisibility. Co-victims endure the cast aspersions upon their loved ones. They will not let go and often fantasize about revenge. People are already getting wary of their stories and are ignoring them at times. Sometimes they get isolated because others feel their sentiments and are getting distressed with their distress. The most painful part is getting shunned from the lives of even their loved ones because of fear of the contagion of death and murder in their lives.
They are left on their own and have to comprehend traumatized grief and yet there lies the need to comprehend criminal justice system, media, family, and victim’s rights. They simply stand for models of death notifications and they are fighting to that right to deserve to live and the innate instinct of the need to survive.
Page O’Kane, James. Wicked deeds: murder in America. NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2005. Towl, Graham & Crighton, David. The handbook of psychology for forensic practitioners. NY: Routledge, 1996.