Open Access Research article

Filicide in Austria and Finland - A register-based study on all filicide cases in Austria and Finland 1995-2005

Hanna Putkonen*, Sabine Amon, Maria P Almiron, Jenny Yourstone Cederwall, Markku Eronen, Claudia Klier, Ellen Kjelsberg and Ghitta Weizmann-Henelius

BMC Psychiatry 2009, 9:74  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-9-74

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Numerical error

Virpi Kauko   (2012-06-28 16:59)  --

"Austria had 86 filicide victims and Finland had 66, which
equal 5.2 per 100,000 inhabitants and 5.9 per 100,000
inhabitants, respectively (Table 2)."

According to the official vital statistics, there were on average about 1,120,000
people younger than 18 years in Finland at that 11-year time period. The annual
filicide rate would thus actually be 66/11 = 6 cases per 1,120,000 people in age
group 0-17, which equals 0.54 /100,000.

Unlike the figure 5.9 stated in the article, the figure 0.54 fits quite well into existing
data. According to reports by the National Research Institute of Legal Policy [*], the
total annual rates of child homicides in Finland have been less than one per 100,000
children in the age group 0-14 for many decades (and filicide rate is obviously at most
that high). I do not think the Austrian figure could be as high as 5.2 /100,000 either.

In the Discussion section, the authors do notice that their results are surprisingly high
compared to WHO Mortality Database. They suggest this anomaly is due to the hidden
nature of these crimes. But, as they correctly note in Methods, "rate of hidden criminality
for homicide is low in both countries". Even if there were unreported cases, these could
not have been revealed by this record-based research. The unexpectedly high number
is most likely due to a simple computational error.


Sincerely,

Virpi Kauko, Ph.D in Mathematics
Jyvaskyla, Finland

[*] Research Report 258; Table 1 on page 22 of the Finnish full text.

Competing interests

None

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