General Information
Losing a loved one through homicide is one of the most traumatic experiences that an individual can face; it is an event for which no one can adequately prepare, but which leaves in its wake tremendous emotional pain and upheaval. For purposes of this article, homicide or murder is defined as the "willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another" (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2000).

In 1999, there were 15,533 murders committed in the United States (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2000) - crimes which affected many more people than the victim. Homicide grief expert Lu Redmond (1989) has estimated that there are seven to ten close relatives - not counting significant others, friends, neighbors and co-workers - for each victim. Those left behind to mourn are called homicide survivors and no amount of justice, restitution, prayer, or compassion will bring their loved one back.

Homicide Statistics
  • In instances where the assailant was known, fourteen percent (14%) of the murders in the United States in 1999 were committed by family members. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2000).
  • In 1999, handguns were involved in fifty-one percent (51%) of the murders in which a weapon was used in the United States. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2000).
  • Among all female homicide victims in 1999 in the United States, thirty-two percent (32%) were killed by their spouse or a boyfriend, whereas only three percent (3%) of male victims were killed by wives or a girlfriend. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2000).
  • In 1999, homicide was the fourth leading cause of death for children ages one to four years of age. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2000).