WITS University psychology lecturer Joseph Seabi, who specialises in suicide analysis, believes the perpetrator of familicide is often suicidal himself before he commits any crime.
But before committing suicide, he may ask himself: “But if I kill myself, what about my kids? Who will look after them?”
It is this kind of thinking that can lead a suicidal man to familicide.
Professor Gertie Pretorius, director at the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Psychological Services, agrees that SA men who are raised with a “breadwinner mentality” will often feel they are saving their families from further suffering by killing them.
In her research on family murder, Pretorius notes that these individuals see no other way out of the “vortex of hopelessness” of their emotional or financial woes.
The moment the provider of the family starts to fail at his or her job, a warped mind may start to rationalise his or her own death.
However, Seabi also points out that a violent burst of emotion can lead to this sort of crime, and the suicide is part of the regret the killer experiences after committing a heinous crime of passion.
Pretorius says a long history of depression or hopelessness is often seen in perpetrators of familicide.
Seabi believes that those who have trouble expressing their emotions can often erupt into violence due to an inability to deal with conflict.